// Westfield owner Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield posts drop in shopping centre turnover for first quarter of the year
// Gross rental income on a proportionate basis dropped 33.4% on the first quarter of last year
The parent company of Westfield, Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield has reported a decline in shopping centre turnover for the first quarter of the year, following the Covid-19 lockdowns.
The owner of Westfield London and Westfield Stratford City said proportionate turnover fell by 30.4 per cent year-on-year to €472.8 million (£410.9 million) for its shopping centre assets in the first quarter of 2021, ending March 31.
Total turnover on a proportionate basis for the first quarter stood at €566.7 million (£492.4 million), a decline of 40.8 per cent on the first quarter of 2020.
Gross rental income on a proportionate basis reached €502 million (£436 million), a decline of 33.4 per cent on the first quarter of last year.
Meanwhile, turnover for its office assets was down by 31.7 per cent to €19.5 million (£16.9 million), while turnover for convention and exhibition centres dropped by a colossal 83.2 per cent to €11.7 million (£10.16 million).
Revenues from property services and other activities declined by 38.9 per cent to €26.5 million (£23 million), and property development and project management revenues collapsed by 73.3 per cent to €36.2 million (£31.45 million).
“The group’s centres were effectively closed for an average of 42 days in the first quarter, with the exception of essential retail,” group chief executive Jean-Marie Tritant said.
“Combined with the ongoing closure of all convention and exhibition venues, the group’s performance in the quarter was strongly impacted, and we anticipate 2021 to remain very challenging with tougher and longer restrictions impacting the Group beyond Q1.
“While we saw encouraging leasing activity as brands continue to choose our locations in preparation for the post-Covid-19 market rebound, our overall vacancy rate did increase slightly in Q1 as a result of the lagged impact of the pandemic on retailers.
“We continue to partner with our tenants to navigate this environment together.
“We see positive signs of a return to normality whenever restrictions are eased, thanks to pent-up consumer demand for our high quality shopping destinations.
“In March, sales in Spain, Austria and Sweden, where non-essential retail was allowed to trade, reached 81 per cent, 79 per cent and 76 per cent of 2019 levels, respectively.
“Tenant sales in selected US markets where most restrictions had been removed, with the exception of capacity limits, also recovered strongly, with sales in our non-CBD flagship centres reaching 93 per cent of 2019 levels in March and some centres even exceeding pre-Covid levels.
“In addition, the strong return of UK footfall, reaching 75 per cent of 2019 levels and 1.2 million visits in the first week after reopening, despite ongoing indoor food and beverage and entertainment closures, is an encouraging sign of the appetite we expect to see across all markets.
“As outlined at the full-year results, the varied pace of vaccination progress and the resulting recovery trajectory of each of our markets means the group still lacks sufficient visibility to provide a full-year outlook at this time.”