City centre shop landlords are having to offer more flexible arrangements with their tenants to help keep them in business.
One of the biggest in Canterbury is the Dean and Chapter, which owns 62 largely independent shops in Burgate, Sun Street and Palace Street
Its estate manager, Natalie Beldin, says the organisation is taking a pragmatic approach with tenants in view of the growing challenges in the retail sector.
“A lot of our portfolio is in retail and we are having to be more flexible with our approach to tenants’ rents and leases because no one wants to see empty shops,” she said.
“Of course, there is only so much we can do and we have to weigh up the alternative of the shop standing empty and not bringing in any income.
“But there has been a lot of uncertainty in the retail sector right now and the next few months will be very telling.”
Mrs Beldin says that of the 62 premises, only five are unlet and of those, works are being undertaken to three buildings.
One of them is the former Noa Noa fashion store, which Mrs Beldin says is being divided into smaller units.
The government is also raising the threshold at which small businesses will have to start paying business rates, which Mrs Beldin says will help take some of the pressure off them.