Commercial property owners are asking to recognize this industry as particularly affected.
The authorities continue to expand the lists of industries most affected by the coronavirus epidemic. The state will support companies in the service sector, catering, tourist business, car dealerships, non-specialized stores, sports organizations, entertainment enterprises, museums and zoos. But shopping malls, which have halted operations across the country since March 28, are still not on the list. This means that they cannot apply for tax holidays, credit holidays, or any other assistance.
According to the head of the Russian Union of Shopping Centers (RSTC) Bulat Shakirov, seven thousand shopping centers operated in Russia before all the coronavirus events, each of which had from 150 to 400 tenant stores. The industry employs at least 10 million people with related workers. A month later, declared unemployed, people began to lose their jobs.
“Every day the situation is getting worse and worse, because more and more people are leaving,” Shakirov explains.
- If the government extends the quarantine until the end of May, I think that half of the companies on the market will go bankrupt. If the launch of the economy begins on May 12, as in Europe, then most of the centers will cope with this situation. Now everyone is fighting for survival.
- And how do they survive?
- If the reserves were, then they are exhausted, since the largest owners of real estate have already stated that they can not afford to incur any costs with taxes, loans, or salaries. If for March the employees were paid their salaries, then for April there is no money - all centers were closed.
Offices will change due to the pandemic stronger than other segments of real estate
- Why shopping centers were not included in the most affected industries and backbone enterprises?
- I ask myself this question every day. We are in daily contact with representatives of various ministries and departments, we wrote letters to both the president and the head of government, and met with Dmitry Medvedev as the head of United Russia. But so far there is no answer to all our letters. There are no support measures for us. At the regional level, mayors and governors have recommended considering the possibility of postponing taxes, but so far there is no positive example. Our state, apparently, does not consider that 10 million people who are employed in our industry are their priority.
- If quarantine measures begin to weaken, what are the owners of the shopping center ready to do in the fight for buyers and safety?
- While we are following the experience of the UAE, where shopping centers began to open. We will watch what is happening in Europe. I can say that the observance of social distance will be monitored in detail, all incoming visitors will have a remote temperature measurement. Thinking about additional investment in the purchase of special devices. These are portals that will spray a disinfectant on a person upon entering, thus completely treating it with an antiseptic. There are such systems of Russian developers. Since the masks have appeared on sale and the price is now not so cosmic, we can talk about giving out these masks for free to all visitors. The main thing now is that businesses are allowed to work. Everything else is a matter of technology.