Six months ago and with the collapse of the world banking system all around us, if anyone did dare think as far ahead as tomorrow’s quarterly rent day, it might have seemed an insurmountable future hurdle.
But believe it or not, the talk from all sides, including landlords and agents, is already starting to sound more positive.
The rout that many predicted would follow the March quarter date never happened, retail sales are starting to stabilise and the flow of company collapses has eased.
But as one major landlord quite rightly pointed out to me last week, “we would be stupid to get carried away”.
There are still likely to be retailers out there for whom tomorrow’s rent payment might be the final straw. Ignoring this fact would be to overlook the reality that the old-fashioned three-month rent payments are still widely used and are crippling to retailers already struggling along.
The main reason there wasn’t a catastrophic wave of retail administrations in March was because retailers had made it clear well in advance that three months’ worth of rent just wasn’t feasible and thankfully many of their landlords agreed.
One of the consequences of getting carried away and tugging any green shoots out of the ground could be that the important lessons to have come out of this recession — perhaps most crucially the monthly rents question — might be too quickly forgotten.
A lot of progress has been made and the landlords that have seen sense should be congratulated. But there remains a battle to be fought and while quarter dates still exist there will still be retailers losing out to an archaic system.