Salons and hair led the biggest month-over-month gains in rent collection in April, with increases of 8.21% and 9.97%, respectively, according to the latest Datex Property Solutions’ Tenant Track Report. They were followed by home goods (5.7%), drug stores (4.54%) and fitness (4.24%). 

The latest figures demonstrate how far the economy has come from rent collection lows a year ago, when the pandemic froze virtually every facet of American commerce. In April 2020, rent collection percentages dropped 35% from March numbers to 59.73%, and 62.97% for national chains. In April of this year, collections reached their highest levels post-pandemic 89.42% in aggregate and 93.44% for national chains.

In an interview with GlobeSt.com, Mark Sigal, CEO of Datex Property Solutions, noted that when compared to April 2019, “we still have room to grow since, in contrast to April 2021 and April 2020, the April 2019 collection numbers were 93.27% in aggregate, and 96.12% for nationals,” he said. “There is more upside.”

Sigal also noted that drug stores in particular showed increased sales velocity as of late, with occupancy costs at their lowest levels (3.74%) since well before the pandemic.

“As much as anything, this is likely a by-product of more and more of the country opening up, and a lot of the incidentals that might have been bought online or foregone, being bought in-store,” he said. “Lower occupancy costs are indicative of a greater capacity to pay rent, which is likely why we see these incremental gains.”

And while sporting goods showed a drop in April from 91.55% to 85.70%, “the sales data suggests that there is nothing to worry about,” Sigal said, noting that sales per square foot numbers have been growing for several months, “yielding occupancy costs that at 3.22% were the second lowest of all the categories that we track, just a shade behind supermarkets at 3.11%.”

Sigal predicts virtually all categories will show a jump in May, reflecting pent up demand among consumers. This “bodes well for virtually every category, but especially, those categories where see-touch-feel is a core differentiator,” he said. “The axiom that ‘we’re waxed, vaxxed and ready to emerge from the pandemic as our better selves,’ is true and a favorable trend for brick and mortal retail,” Sigal said.

“People who’ve been cooped up at home for months are going to want to get into shape, which bodes well for fitness. They are going to want to get new outfits and look great, which bodes well for apparel, shoes, hair and nail salons,” Sigal said. “In this environment, specialty restaurants, specialty food and specialty retail all do well for a consumer that has foregone holidays and travel, who is fortified by stimulus dollars, and the tailwind of a strengthening economy that should only increase in the summer months.”

Sigal says the only categories where the sales data, and specifically, occupancy costs, suggest material risk is movie theaters and department stores.