The 70 days that a good part of the city’s retail trade has had a turnover of zero, or no more than 10 or 15 percent, are being a fatal blow to an increasing number of businesses; a situation that begins to be reflected in closings and unemployment of physical premises.
The phenomenon is visible and recognized unanimously among real estate agents, gallery managers, shopping malls and the merchants themselves who, it is worth clarifying, put different numbers according to the case.
In the microcenter, blocks of greater occupation converge with areas where empty premises begin to multiply (San Martín, north of Colón Avenue, for example), and historical galleries where vacancies have increased almost fivefold since March 20.
A clarification that is heard transversally in the sector: the waterfalls of closings is not even higher due to the willingness of agreement that exists between the majority of the owners and tenants, and to the hard work of “accompaniment” to tenants who assumed who rent or manage.
“We do more retention work than cell phone companies,” the owner of a large commercial real estate agent graciously grappled. The partial or total rebate of rents became generalized from April to a large part of the shops, with a larger scale in paralyzed items. There is agreement that it will continue in the months to come.
“We administered about 200 stores throughout the city and between four and five percent were unemployed; but it would be 30 percent without the enormous support effort that is made between owners and tenants, with our mediation, ”said Ariel Soueid, head of Vaes Properties.
The vacancy data with the greatest scope was provided by the Córdoba Chamber of Real Estate Brokers, an area where the main commercial real estate agencies in the city share their status reports. “The latest estimates indicate that since the beginning of the quarantine, there are between five and 10 percent of premises that were unoccupied; that on a park of between one thousand and 1,500 premises for rent in the center and the main corridors ”, revealed Juan Martín Dahan, member of the board of directors of the entity and partner of the Meade-Pucheta Group. Those percentages must be added to the vacancy that the sector had before March 20, of around five percent without considering galleries and between 10 and 15 percent when adding these spaces. The new estimates imply, in short, that the current vacancy is double that registered before the Covid-19 crisis.
Gallery occupancy was declining before the pandemic, although the outlook varied greatly from one to the other. A survey by the Córdoba Chamber of Commerce indicated in 2019 that of 960 stores located in 18 downtown galleries, 171 (17.8 percent) were unemployed.
Some of them, like the Great Rex, were different from that photo thanks to its good location, its cinemas and high pedestrian circulation. Before the pandemic, out of a total of 52 stores, only three expected to occupy themselves; according to data carried from your administration. Today, the gaps total 14, a situation never recorded in its 30-year history.
Others, such as Paseo Muñoz (section from July 9 to the “fish tanks”), did not lose tenants in the quarantine; Jorge Armesto assures from the administration. However, even before Covid-19, 15 percent of its 30 stores were vacant. “We subsidize 50 to 100 percent of rents, depending on the case. Expenses cannot be stopped charging ”, he clarified.
From the United Merchants Network, they cited the case of the Space gallery, with 15 empty stores.
6,000 industries: back to production
The Nation hurries with the provinces its reopening.
The national government is working together with the provinces to speed up the reactivation of the industrial parks.
In the country, there are 405 that house eight thousand companies, have 15 percent of industrial employment and 80 percent of the firms that comprise them are SMEs. Of the total, some 2,000 continued to work during the quarantine and another 6,000 were paralyzed, according to industry sources.
“We close because we can’t take it anymore”
The year had started “very well” for Sofía Agulles and her husband, Fabricio Rosales, owners of the Jalisco cafeteria and ice cream parlor, located in Chacabuco 390. The branch is the only one owned by the couple, who with effort made their brand grow from of the franchise model. “The plan was to open two own stores this year and even export, but everything stopped,” she says. Today he prepares to deliver the premises of about 120 square meters for which he pays a rent of 100,000 pesos a month.
“All the neighboring businesses were closing. Without these clients, without students in Nueva Córdoba and without being able to receive people on the premises, we cannot give more, neither economically nor emotionally, ”he regrets.
The last 70 days his turnover was between zero and less than 10 percent of the usual (he works only with delivery and take away); With this he had to cover the rent, taxes and services and the salaries of the five employees he has. “We resorted to loans at a rate of 24 percent and zero, and the salary payment program, but nothing came of it because our turnover in March 2020 was higher than in March 2019. It happens that this business is seasonal, and this year the weather helped sell a little more ”, he clarifies, stressing that there is no possible rest left to continue“ pulling ”. “We tried everything these weeks: sale by WhatsApp, delivery. Everything is a fight, the delivery apps take you between 30 and 40 percent of a sale, it is impossible to absorb it. There were days when what we sold was less than the expense of electricity or moving our employees from their homes, ”he says, clarifying that his store has a larger structure than the Jalisco franchises. “We will try to dialogue, to locate people in the factory (Jalisco), it is small. The wish is to be able to reopen in a few months, ”he assured.
The original text of this article was published on 05/28/2020 in our printed edition.
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