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March 25, 2020 | Retail Grinds to a Halt as 47,000 Stores Close

Mike 'Mish' Shedlock

Mike Shedlock / Mish is a registered investment advisor representative for SitkaPacific Capital Management. Sitka Pacific is an asset management firm whose goal is strong performance and low volatility, regardless of market direction.
As stores shutter and business grinds to a halt, what are the store owners supposed to do?
Bloomberg reports 47,000 U.S. Stores Closed in About a Week Over Coronavirus.

In a little over a week, American retail ground to a near-total halt.

More than 47,000 chain stores across the U.S. temporarily shut their doors in 10 days as retailers took extreme measures to help slow the spread of the coronavirus pandemic that has rattled all sectors of the global economy, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. At least 90 nationwide retailers, ranging from Macy’s Inc. to GameStop Corp. to Michael Kors have temporarily gone dark.

Most have pledged to remain closed to the public for at least two weeks, but they may stay closed for much longer. In the same period, small retail businesses throughout the U.S. also hit pause on their physical locations but are not included in this list.

Timeline of Closures

The bulk of those stores expect to open by the end of the month.

Will they?

Even if they do, when will shoppers return?

How many hours will be cut?

Meanwhile …

U.S. Retailers Plan to Stop Paying Rent to Offset Virus

Please note U.S. Retailers Plan to Stop Paying Rent to Offset Virus

Major U.S. retail and restaurant chains, including Mattress Firm and Subway, are telling landlords they will withhold or slash rent in the coming months after closing stores to slow the coronavirus, according to people familiar with the situation.

In a brewing fight, chains are calling for rent reductions through lease amendments and other measures starting in April, said the people, who asked not to be named because the discussions are private.

Mattress Firm, with about 2,400 stores, sent landlords a letter last week saying it would cut rent in exchange for longer leases and offering two options to do so. This week, it sent a more urgent note revoking its earlier offer.

Retail real estate investment trusts may need to provide leeway on rent, Bank of America said this week after downgrading several REITs. The bank sees store closings lasting through May and the possibility of some locations going away as more fragile retailers are forced into bankruptcy.

The court system is just going to get flooded with a million of these disputes between tenants and landlords,” said Vince Tibone, an analyst at Green Street Advisors. “If the government doesn’t step in in any form or fashion, it could get ugly. They need to respond quickly.”

We have a major problem brewing that the rescue package did not cover.

Mike “Mish” Shedlock

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March 25th, 2020

Posted In: Mish Talk

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