Retail impacted by pandemic, while Fresno sees new shopping center take shape

ABC 30 — August 20, 2020

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- It is a sign of the tough retail times.

Stores like Sur La Table at the River Park Shopping Center in North Fresno are closing and unable to make it in this tough economy and changing retail landscape.

"You're seeing chains like Tuesday Morning, JCPenney that are filing bankruptcy. Then you have the mom and pops that really rely on their one store to pay the bills. It's just really challenging for everybody," said Lewis Smith, Retail CA Sr. V.P.

Retail California is a commercial brokerage dealing shopping centers and malls.

The shut down has made it extremely difficult for stores to operate. No foot traffic means no revenue and the bills are still pilling up.

Smith says many landlords are making deals with tenants or deferring rent for the mean time.

"Rents are fluctuating quite a bit, depending on the shopping center, depending on the town. They are trending downward, but I think that will change the beginning of the year," Smith said.

Here in Fresno, retailers are dealing with the same challenges as others across California that are under restriction.

Smith says for every tenant that is closing, they're seeing that retail space get leased within months or a year.

"Usually there's a brand new business that's willing to come in the space and open a new business, that's the only silver lining to everything," Smith said.

He says shopping centers with a grocery store or box store, like Target or Walmart, are doing better because shoppers are taking the time to stop by other stores.

The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf is expected to open a location in Northeast Fresno.

Activity is picking up at the market place at El Paseo along Herndon near Highway 99.

"Hobby Lobby, Five Below and Carters all just opened in the last couple of week, despite the pandemic," Smith said.

The movie theater is hoping to open this fall, depending on restrictions.

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