Restaurants and shops migrate to malls to survive pandemic in Latvia

More and more windows of restaurants and shops are dark as businesses move to malls or close for good, Latvian Radio reported December 7.

For sale: sunny café space on Dzirnavu Street, a space for a shop on Krišjāņa Barona Street, a restaurant on the Bar Street in Old Riga, a club premises on Ģertrūde Street. According to the owner of the real estate market company DoReMi Group Artūrs Obrickis, abandoned commercial spaces are currently on every corner in Rīga's busiest streets.

"Shopping malls have it a little easier this time. It is a little easier because they each have their own dedicated marketing strategy, a marketing team that thinks and plans to entice certain buyers to the mall. Many businesses have faced the fact that they don't succeed [in separately-standing shops] want to try to work in malls, even if it is more expensive," Obrickis said.

The winners are chain-type companies, which work with a strategy all the time. A single-standing restaurant or shop, however, does not risk expanding or looking for other spaces. Often, the victim of this situation is the owner of the space.

“Within one block, there can be shops where a good tenant is safely located and pays a stable rent, and nothing has changed and these renters will be there. But there are rooms where, unfortunately, there are no new tenants to look at these spaces at all,” Obrickis said.

This depends both on the communication of owners with tenants and on financial considerations. There are owners who do not want to give discounts, as well as those who do not consider the current market situation and do not invest in the development of premises.

Santa Graikste, executive director of the Latvian Hotel and Restaurant Association, does not foresee good times for catering. During the pre-pandemic period, the tenants of the premises changed rapidly – if one goes bankrupt, soon another emerged. But currently there is silence even in the Old Town, which is normally the busiest.

Graikste said that, unfortunately, due to price increases, there will be many companies that will close doors this year. According to her, owners can't give endless discounts as heating and electricity prices rise. 

 

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