With the pandemic having dealt a blow to businesses across sectors, over 50,000 shops in Bengaluru have closed permanently. Many others are on the verge of closure if sales don't pick up in the forthcoming festive season.
Shops selling readymade garments, footwear, stationery items, mobile accessories, and small eateries are among establishments downing shutters. Scenes of shops being vacated and To-let boards hanging in front of them have become commonplace in every nook and corner of the city.
According to Federation of Karnataka Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FKCCI), there are around 4 lakh shops in Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) limits, of which 12% to 15% have closed. "Another 8%-10% are on the verge of shutting down. Go to any area in Bengaluru and you will see To-let boards hanging outside many shops. Lack of business and mounting rental dues are the reasons for closure in many cases," said FKCCI president K Janardhan.
A majority of the shops which have shut down were rented by those from other states and Kannadigas from outside Bengaluru. "It was a double blow for them as they had to pay rents of their houses as well as shops. When business is not even 25 per cent of pre-Covid times, how can they sustain?" Janardhan added.
Thousands of tenants have even defaulted on monthly rent due to lack of business. "I haven't paid rent since April. My shop was closed through April and May owing to the lockdown. Though I have reopened it, there are no customers," said Vishwajit, owner of a readymade garments store in Sanjaynagar. He pays Rs 12,000 as rent per month and the owner has said he will deduct rental dues from the Rs 2.5 lakh advance Vishwajit had paid.
BJP MLA and owner of Garuda Mall Uday Garudachar said tenants are finding it difficult to pay rent as they have no business for four months. In his mall too, four shops have been vacated in the past two months. "Knowing their (tenants') situation, we are not insisting on rent. At Garuda mall, we are only collecting core area maintenance charges from tenants, which are minimal. It's time for us to cooperate with one another," he added.
Owners of businesses which started just months before the Covid-19 outbreak are struggling to pay rent and loan instalments. "I'm staring at a bleak future. I don't know what to do," said Avinash, who had started an eatery in Sanjaynagar in January.
Source: Times of India