Our real estate portfolio, with local shopping centers, dominant and points of reference in their respective areas, guarantee the ability to serve the local community during the lockdown (remaining open in Italy selling food products and essentials), but it is also demonstrating a high degree of resilience with respect to the considerable difficulties caused by COVID-19.
Occupancy has remained basically unchanged and footfalls, from the full recovery of operations, have reached a good level, with visitors who have stated they appreciate the initiatives implemented to guarantee health and safety inside the shopping centers; several limiting factors still exist, like the impossibility to organize large gatherings and the unforeseen difficulties encountered by restaurants and entertainment. The most significant positive signal, however, comes from the retailers’ sales, down proportionately less then footfalls which indicates an increase in the propensity to consume and confirms that the consumers’ attention is still on physical shopping.
In the short-term our priority is to know how to live with the emergency phase, confirmed by the extension of the state of emergency by the Government until 15 October 2020. We have also decided that, regardless of how the contagion spreads, we will maintain a high level of supervision, social distancing and sanitization at least through the end of the year in order to guarantee the safety of everyone who enters our shopping centers, to make easyer entry and permanence in the center, without reducing the precautionary measures.
With the D.P.C.M of 17 May 2020 which allowed the reopening of all non-essential activities starting from 18 May 2020, the gradual lockdown exit phase officially began in Italy.
Consistent with the national guidelines proposed also by the CNCC, a series of measures will be implemented in order to promote safe traffic flows in the shopping centers: increase in cleaning and sanitization, mandatory masks, hand sanitizer and thermometers (thermocamera), control of traffic entering, circulating and leaving the malls with strict social distancing. A specific protocol has also been established for IGD’s headquarter personnel involving similar safety measures (sanitization of the workplace, distancing, the use of masks and other PPI).
Aware of the new challenges that the health emergency has faced us, we have also prepared the “Moving Forward” Plan which includes some actions that will be carried out in the next few months: new promotional activities in response to the economic crisis, increase in personalized digital services, development of the opportunities linked to the increase in e-commerce and give answers to new needs connected to the growth of smartworking, online teaching and the difficulties of food service.
Following the spread of Covid-19 in Italy and the consequent health emergency, beginning 23 February 2020 different local administrations and the national government gradually put more restrictive measures in place for our shopping centers, initially in the Milan area, subsequently in Lombardy and a few regions of northern Italy and, lastly, as of 12 March 2020 (Presidential Decree of 11 March 2020), throughout Italy. The same situation occurred in Romania, starting from 22 March 2020, the government has adopted restrictive measures very similar to those in force in Italy.
Subsequent to the lockdown, IGD moved quickly to guarantee that all the people working at its headquarters and shopping centers could continue to be operational and customers could continue to make purchases in complete safety. Our shopping centers never closed as they house retailers which provide essential goods and services.
The virus containment measures imposed resulted in significant changes being made to the operation and organization of shopping centers: changes which have been successfully implemented up until now.
“The sector in which we operate has already been undergoing continuous and rapid change for several years which has posed great challenges and called for the ability to adapt quickly, but the serious situation that has developed in our country and worldwide due to the spread of the COVID-19 epidemic calls for further massive efforts which we are, obviously, pursuing with great determination, aware of the important role that a leading Group has in a sector like ours.”
We immediately implemented a series of measures consistent with its sustainability policies relative to all its stakeholders:
Since 2007, we work with CNCC (National Association of Shopping Centres), an umbrella association that brings together, in a single entity, all private and public organisations connected in various ways to the shopping centre, retail park and factory outlet industry. In this period, so difficult for our sector, we continue to be actively involved in its activity by covering various roles in the bodies and working groups of the association itself to find common guidelines to deal with the exit from the lockdown phase.
Below are some images of the institutional campaign to raise awareness of the importance, safety and usefulness of shopping centers.