In Spain there are close to a million commercial stores, of which more than half belong to retail activities. Now, in the midst of the de-escalation process and the state of alarm has ended, the photograph left by many cities and towns in the country is devastating: hundreds of locals have had to close permanently due to lack of income. In addition, low demand and ample supply have caused rents and commercial rents to drop even to double digits.

The most pessimistic estimates put between 30% and 40% the final closure of premises throughout the country. Large cities and tourist areas will be the most punished by the pandemic. Only in Catalonia, the regional government has openly recognized that one in three shops they will never raise the blind again. Faced with this scenario, it is committed to a reconversion of business based on digitization and requests direct aid to save the sector.

The experts consulted by this newspaper confirm that the owners of the empty premises are in a hurry to sell and put the price adjustment of the commercial premises up to 20%. Prices will drop both for sale and for rent. “Many homeowners want to sell as soon as possible, as they assume that the economy will take months to recover and they find it almost impossible to find someone to occupy the premises. He prefers to divest assets now rather than sell them off in a few months. There is another group of owners-minority-who wants to sell because they have urgent financial needs, “they say.

Regarding sale prices, from AESPI (Spanish Association of Real Estate Personal Shopper) estimate that the prices of the best located commercial premises could be reduced by up to 20%. “There will be acquisition opportunities especially in second lines, where purchases can be made with discounts of 20% due to the rise of electronic commerce and teleworking.”

In the midst of this crisis that strangles commercial premises, the association highlights the rise of a real estate trend led by retail: investment in premises flagship, that is, the most representative store of a brand; they are generally larger and better positioned than the challenge. “It is a model that has been gaining strength in recent years and that from now on it will become even more consolidated. Thus, they are looking for premises in prime areas that serve as a showcase for the brand and the product, which will end up being mostly commercialized through e-commerce, “they explain. Large firms such as Primark, Huawei or H&M have opted for this model in recent months.

One possible way out for empty commercial premises is to convert them to homes. However, current legislation requires various procedures to be carried out, which may take more than a year. In recent days, both local owners and various associations have asked administrations to streamline procedures.

From AESPI believe that “new housing policies are necessary to effectively regulate the change of use of commercial premises to housing as a way of taking advantage of empty premises in second and third lines and to solve the problem of access to housing in large cities for the lack of supply and finalist land ».

Thousands of merchants have had to remain closed during the state of alarm, but many have not been able to request the aid that the Government has launched, such as the moratorium on commercial rentals for SMEs, the self-employed and professionals set out in Royal Decree 15/2020. , which aroused criticism from much of the sector for considering it uneven for tenants and landlords.

In general, they have only been able to access the moratorium in the event of cessation of activity or if they have reduced their turnover due to the coronavirus. In addition, the standard distinguished between the type of lessor: company, public housing entity or large holder, and those who are not. A large holder is defined as the owner of more than ten urban properties or a constructed area of ​​more than 1,500 square meters.

In that case, the tenant could request the moratorium on the rent payment during the time of the state of alarm -until June 21-, and the subsequent extensions. It also contemplates that the following monthly payments will be paid if the effects of the health crisis persist. The Royal Decree approved by the Government in April also included an extension of the moratorium of up to four months from the end of the state of alarm.