Retail rent collections are steadily improving. In February, rent collections surpassed 90% among national retailers for the first time since March 2020, when the pandemic began, according to research from Datex Property Solutions. In the same month last year, national retailers paid more than 93% of rents, showing that retailers in this category are inching closer to pre-pandemic performance.

Mark Sigal of Datex says that a few factors are driving rent collections. “For one, there is a commitment to a lease, so it’s part of the basic give and take, he tells “At the same time, most tenants have had some form of coordinated efforts with the landlord, which is the embodiment of ‘we are in this together,’ so that is no small driving force. Plus, for those who have weathered the storm unbroken, there’s an enduring commitment to and belief in their craft. Underlying all of this is an expectation that there is pent up demand from the consumer, which seems logical. The light at the end of tunnel is real based on all of the data we have.”

Rent collections among non-national tenants however, fell nominally in February to 80.76%, down from 80.79% in January. However, this signals stability in the sector. Overall, retail rent collections totaled 85.6% in February. “February collections data shows that we are holding steady at 85% and some change, with collections for nationals hitting the 90% range for the first time in about a year,” says Sigal. “Plus, we have the stimulus kicking in, and the slow thaw of the pandemic, which will feel to the economy and retail operators in general like a volume control gradually turned up in the next few months. I am bullish on the overall direction of things.”

Retail collections have steadily improved as COVID-19 restrictions are lifted, which is happening across the country in accordance with vaccine distribution. The stability of rent collection signals to a retail recovery once pandemic eases. “I believe that there is pent up demand,” says Sigal. “People have foregone travel and the usual bloated holiday spend, to some degree, so there is consumer spend waiting to be deployed, which is further bolstered by the stimulus.”