THE owner of Westquay has revealed it has collected only 41 per cent of the rent due for this quarter from tenants as the Covid-19 lockdown took its toll.

Hammerson’s property portfolio includes Birmingham’s Bullring and London’s Brent Cross as well as Southampton’s major shopping centre.

It said it had collected only £19.8million of the £61.5m rent payable in advance for the first quarter of 2021.

Around £12.9m has been deferred or is not yet due, with £28.8m outstanding, the company said.

At the previous peak of the pandemic, in the second quarter of 2020, Hammerson collected 63 per cent of rent due.

Flagship sites – typically in city centres – were particularly hard hit, with only 36 per cent of rent collected, although retail parks had a better time, with 64 per cent paid.

For the full year 2020, 66 per cent of the £265.2m due had been collected as of October.

Hammerson bosses said they saw encouraging boosts in customer numbers during the Christmas trading period from November 30 to December 24 after the second English national lockdown ended and the tiering systems allowed for more stores to reopen.

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However, city centre sites continued to struggle to return to levels seen in pre-pandemic times, with footfall at just 60 per cent of the previous year.

Retail parks were more positive, with customers typically feeling more comfortable visiting outdoor sites with parking facilities to avoid public transport. Hammerson said footfall on these sites was at the same level as a year ago.

During the run-up to Christmas, 75 per cent of tenants in the UK were open or offering click and collect.

So far this year, however, this has fallen to just one in four open – either as “essential” retailers, non-essential stores offering click and collect, or restaurants and cafes which are providing takeaways and deliveries.

Retailing reopened in Southampton on December 2, as the second, four-week national lockdown was lifted and the city was put into Tier 2 restrictions instead.

But the city was moved into the new, harsher Tier 4 restrictions which forced retailers to close on Boxing Day before the third national lockdown this month.

Hampshire and Southampton to move to Tier 4 from Boxing day

Hammerson’s Irish portfolio is also seeing only a quarter of occupiers open and French sites are being hit by a 6pm national curfew.

Just over half of Hammerson’s Value Villages are closed although virtual shopping services at the sites have expanded strongly while closed, the company added.