Shaftesbury real estate investment trust has one of the largest portfolios of smooth property in London. It has a cracking website, announcing that its objective is to deliver long-term growth in rental income, capital values and shareholder returns. By 'long-term' we in the NTI newsroom think they must mean very long-term, as the news today has the firm receiving just 41 per cent of the rent it was due on its 15-acre property portfolio for the six months to 30 September.
Shaftesbury have focused on the restaurant, leisure and retail sector in some swanky and memorable postcodes, such as Carnaby Street, West Covent Garden and Soho. But 'swanky' doesn't pay the bills and with flats also clustered within its vanity-case of properties it is doubly suffering as a fifth of its book of 662 apartments, which were once sought-after bases for international students and young professionals, are currently lying empty.
International students have returned home and young professionals are having their laundry done by tutting mothers who don't approve of them Instagramming over supper back in Cumbria. Landlords are gathering in the centres of Birmingham, Leeds and Liverpool this weekend in the largest pin-striped assembly of its type, demanding that this Covid-19 stuff just goes away as they are sick of it and ... lots of other things they feel very cross about.
There will be adequate room for their protests in the West End of London as, although the number of people returning to the leisure centre of the universe is increasing, footfall is still about half of pre-pandemic levels. As has been well reported, this is having a dramatic impact on retailers, cafes and restaurants in the area who need to find other people willing to pay £4 for a cup of coffee and stare at other people with bicycle chains through their lips. What is more those animated souls at the Office for National Statistics reveals in its latest survey on the business impact of Coro ... blah, blah, blah that only 84 per cent of companies are currently trading.
In a glut of statistics the ONS said today (Friday 25 September) that 12 per cent of workers were still on furlough in the fortnight to 6 September, about a third of the figure at its peak, and 27 per cent of the workforce were working remotely. The proportion of adults who travelled to work at some point last week increased to 64 per cent, a post-lockdown high, and 96 per cent used a face covering when leaving home (although 12 of those were knights re-enacting the Battle of The Golden Spurs in Flanders).
Separate figures from the Recruitment and Employment Confederation showed that employers advertised more new jobs last week than at any point since lockdown. Nearly 129,000 were posted in the week to September 20. Since the first week of June, job postings have increased by 25 per cent.