The Sri Lanka Retailers’ Association (SLRA), the apex body for organized retail in Sri Lanka, issued a communique requesting landlords, lessors, and business partners reduce leases and rentals for the Association’s membership.

SLRA President Mr. Murali Prakash appealed to landlords and lessors to provide a 50% concession on rentals/ leases for the next six months on properties leased and rented by SLRA members. Many retailers are suffering losses due to the prevailing situation in the country caused by the COVID-19. The current impact supersedes the previous lockdowns in terms of the effect on retail businesses.

The pandemic and the resultant lockdown have substantially reduced retailers’ operability, given the higher costs, drastically reduced revenues, and cash flows. This has resulted in large losses causing a significant dent in their ability to operate efficiently, with some even struggling to stay afloat. We believe the landlords, lessors, and other business partners would share part of the costs through reduced rentals and other cost-sharing options; thus, together, we navigate to create a better tomorrow.

We understand the impact this would have on the lessors and landlords. However, the industry needs to stay afloat for all parties to benefit in the future, and therefore we believe collective action is the way forward.

Further, the Association appealed to authorities to consider special relief on loan repayments and other concessions on utility and trade levies, especially for smaller retailers, given the unprecedented externalities inhibiting regular business. Retailers have stood the test of time supporting the local economy during good and bad times, and this is an exception where they need support from authorities.

Retail accounts for over one-third of the GDP and over 15% of the employment in Sri Lanka. Vibrant retail is an essential part of a healthy and robust economy. Hence, it’s imperative that we support the retailers at this juncture for the nation’s greater good.

The SLRA currently represents nine sectors in the retail industry, namely FMCG; Clothing, Fashion & Jewelry; Shelter & Housing; Household & Consumer Durables; Footwear & Accessories; E-Commerce; Mobility; Entertainment, Restaurant, and QSR; Healthcare & Wellness.

-Ada Derana