Walmart will offer rent relief to its in-store business partners housed within Walmart Supercenters and Sam’s Clubs in response to COVID-19, the retail giant said Wednesday.
The company will waive rent for the month of April for more than 10,000 businesses operating within its properties—including hair and nail salons, optometrists, veterinary clinics, local and regional banks, and food franchises—and will “continue to monitor the need for additional support past April,” it said.
Walmart, the nation’s largest private employer, has seen a boom in sales during the coronavirus pandemic as people stockpile groceries, hand sanitizer, and cleaning products. And while the megachain has thrived, it’s also taking steps to help its 1.3 million employees and 18,000 suppliers—two-thirds of which are small- to medium-sized businesses. Last week the company announced $550 million in bonuses for hourly workers, and this week it announced changes to its supply-chain financing program, which will speed up payments to suppliers.
But Walmart’s move comes at a time when many retail and restaurant chains themselves are struggling to make rent: Mattress Firm, Subway, and the Cheesecake Factory recently sent letters to their landlords stating that they would be unable to make rent payments due to conditions caused by the coronavirus. The chains join a chorus of commercial tenants calling for rent reductions or suspensions, but with many landlords on the brink of mortgage defaults, negotiations will likely get messy.
Meanwhile, across the Atlantic: The U.K. just imposed a three-month “rent holiday,” during which landlords would be banned from evicting commercial tenants, after a number of businesses there threatened to withhold rents.