Coronavirus: Retailers at major malls seek help to survive amid COVID-19 emergency

The International Council of Shopping Centers, advocating for all malls, is requesting aid from the Trump Administration to prevent rampant unemployment and ruined communities.
TORRANCE (KABC) -- Retailers at major malls are debating their options as their income drops and landlords demand rent for the shuttered stores.

Tenants at Del Amo Fashion Center have been notified that payment for the month of April is due, a particular shock to merchant Maryam Al-Hammami because she had negotiated a deal for a waiver.

Nearby, Annette Frayre's fashion store depends on proms and weddings. She says paying rent without generating income will drive her out of business.

"Crazy, everyday I'm like, I don't know what to do," says Frayre.

The mall owner is Simon Property Group, the largest owner of shopping centers in the nation. According to financial reports, the group is facing bills of its own, including $20 billion in retail property loans.

But brick-and-mortar operations are in the same boat. Many were filing for bankruptcy even before the pandemic.

Al-Hammami thought her business could weather the storm because gaming had become so popular and her business was flourishing.

The International Council of Shopping Centers, advocating for all malls, is requesting aid from the Trump Administration to prevent rampant unemployment and ruined communities.

"These closures are placing an insurmountable strain on our members and we believe federal government action is urgently needed," says Tom McGee, CEO of the ICSC.

Al-Hammami had started scrambling for outside help when she received an unexpected lifeline. The Del Amo lease manager reversed course and agreed to honor the original deal struck with Al-Hammami.

Al-Hamammi believes it all came down to wanting to keep the mall alive.

"They can see they can't survive this without us. Like we are in it together. You can't have a mall without stores."

She urges all parties to find a middle ground for everyone's survival.
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