High rent pushes retailers Rome towards bankruptcy

“Sixty percent less turnover, and that’s okay here.” Above her face mask, Silvia De Lena’s eyes are resting. She can walk around freely in her clothing store. There are no customers anyway. Spring was already a drama, she says. Now things are not much better, and then the government threatens to further curtail the shopping freedom that has since been regained.

The story is the same everywhere in Via Jenner, a shopping street in a middle-class neighborhood in Rome. Caterina Castagna is in another women’s fashion store and she is despondent at her beautiful sweater. “If people have to stay indoors, they don’t buy new clothes, then you can simply put on something.”

Josef Cousin, in menswear, thinks he was lucky that the lockdown came this spring at the end of the winter season. He hadn’t hit big for the summer yet, and thinks his sales decline will be limited to 30 percent.

Cesare Marini, who has been in underwear for 36 years, is even less pessimistic and counts on minus twenty percent. “I have largely made up for the damage from the two-month lockdown in the spring,” he says. “People need underwear.”

Most shopkeepers in the via Jenner in Rome think they can just keep their heads above water. The spring lockdown, with all non-essential stores closed in Italy from early March to mid-May, has been a major blow – though it has hit some harder than others. A big difference here is how heavily the fixed costs weigh.

“Thank God I own my business,” says De Lena. The same goes for Marini, from the underwear. And Cousin says he is fortunate that he has been able to agree on a temporary halving of the rent with his landlord.

Only the luxury brands survive

In this street you will also see only one retail building empty. Still, the mood is gloomy. Hadn’t the chairman of the Confcommercio trade association, Carlo Sangalli, just warned of “unprecedented losses” in the sector this year? They will certainly continue to work next year, he predicted. Due to the lockdown and all other curtailments, consumption in 2020 will take “a step back from 25 years”, he calculated. He vehemently protested that things in Italy’s 1,300 shopping centers are suffering extra because those malls have to close over the weekend.

Here are only the two young women at the jeweler, who put ‘We buy gold’ on the facade in large letters, not in a minor key. “We are very busy,” says Ludovica. The question of whether many people here offer jewelry for sale to make ends meet remains unanswered. “No time now. Come back later. ”

“It is difficult here, but the problems are really big in the center,” says De Lena. She has another shop in the Prati district, next to the Vatican. “But I sell even less there. There are simply no more pilgrims coming to the Pope. ”

Nearly all shops in the historic center of Rome are suffering because tourism has come to a standstill. On this weekday, the upscale Via dei Condotti, with shops from Gucci, Bulgari, Ferragamo, Jimmy Choo, Hermès, Cartier, has no Christmas rush. In many stores, stylishly dressed men and women stroll back and forth, waiting for customers. These matters are still open: the big luxury brands can stand it and do not want to lose this top location.

Two streets further, in Via Frattina, slightly less chic but still a top location, there are at least fifteen lowered roller shutters with placards saying ‘for rent’. These shops have not survived the combination of the dried up flow of tourists and the high rents.

“It is actually impossible to do that”, says Gippa Ottorini. She is behind the counter in a shop in a side street, with ‘Truffles, wine and oil’ on the facade. Behind her are some white truffles, for 2,500 euros per kilo. “We mainly sell to tourists and they don’t come anymore. I hope there will be a vaccine soon. ”

Diagonally opposite is Boutique Central, mainly clothing. “For almost all stores here in the center, turnover has fallen by 80 percent,” says manager Marco Pavoncelli. “We sold to Europeans, Americans, Russians. Now: to no one. ”

He says he worked in real estate in the center for a few years, and sees the high rents as the deathblow. For his business, 65 square meters, he pays 9,000 euros in rent per month. But the same store on Via del Corso, the large and popular parallel street, has a monthly rent of 35,000 euros, he says. And the via dei Condotti? “That’s an outside category.” If there is one thing the cabinet should do, he says, is to intervene in those hiring. “You can no longer leave that to the market. Our situation is now really dramatic. ”

High rent pushes retailers Rome towards bankruptcy
Source link High rent pushes retailers Rome towards bankruptcy

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