Walgreens and Publix make the best tenants during the Covid-19 Pandemic

In our recent survey of shopping center managers across the country, we asked them which retailers had been most difficult to deal with during the Covid-19 pandemic. Unsurprisingly, 28% of the respondents told us a restaurant had been their most difficult tenant.

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In the same survey, we also asked which tenants had been the best during the Covid-19 pandemic. 22% of our respondents told us that a grocery chain was their best tenant. Given the number of people who have been spending more time, including cooking at home, this too isn’t much of a surprise either. Behind grocery chains were specialty retailers and big box retailers, both accounting for 15% of the “best Covid-19 tenants.”

But the best individual tenant according to our survey was Walgreens. 10% of our respondents specifically cited the brand as their best tenant during the pandemic. The only other specific brand to be mentioned more than once was Publix, who also made up 6% of the responses.

Across the board, good tenants have been paying rent on time throughout the pandemic. While this is important, most of our respondents told us that their best tenants were also good communicators who rarely complained. These brands let them know what was happening and didn’t try to avoid talking to the shopping center. 

So how will the pandemic change how these shopping centers fill future vacant spaces?

When we asked what retailers they would focus on moving forward, every single respondent included grocery as one of their target retailers. Jeremy Landsman from Avenue Real Estate

Stated, “The ideal business [moving forward] would be an upscale grocery stores such as Publix or Fresh Market.”

After grocery, 56% of our shopping center respondents told us they would look for more fast food restaurant tenants and 39% told us they would look at pharmacies. And when it comes to the scale of future tenants, 33% of our respondents specifically used the term “national chain” when referring to which retailers they would be looking to fill their vacancies.

While many of our interviewees said that they would try not to let the pandemic affect their leasing practices in the future, Lisa Talley, Property manager for Aria Development in Oklahoma told us, “they will be looking for more essential business and less of the specialty stores when it comes to leasing after Covid19.”

While over time, retail will start to transition back to a state of “normalcy,” the new normal will likely include fewer local brands and specialty shops based on the feedback we’re hearing from shopping centers across the country. Most stores will likely be more oriented towards essential needs, with products shoppers view as necessities.

Are you looking for expanding grocers, pharmacies, or food concepts? Sign up for a no-obligation Retailsphere demo and see how much simpler your retailer search can be.

September 16, 2020
Barton Strawn

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