April 1 is looming large for businesses and individuals across the country, as it marks the first major due date for expenses like rent, utilities and credit cards since governments imposed severe new restrictions over the coronavirus pandemic.
About $20 billion in monthly retail real estate loans are due starting this week, according to the Wall Street Journal, citing data from Marcus & Millichap. Several stores and restaurants have already said they will not pay their rent for April, which in turn threatens the $3 trillion commercial mortgage market.
Almost 50,000 retail stores have closed across the country, and the restaurant industry has lost $25 billion in sales since March 1, according to a National Restaurant Association survey. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development said Friday that economic activity in the United States and other developed countries could fall by as much as 25 percent.
Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have already said they will postpone foreclosures and offer deferrals on home mortgages. And the federal stimulus program passed last week includes $350 billion to help small businesses keep paying their employees and increases current unemployment benefits by $600 a week for four months.
But many companies are still facing tough decisions as April 1 approaches.
“Rent is due. Utilities are due. Credit card bills are due April 1,” Hadley Douglas, who runs the Boston liquor store The Urban Grape, told the Journal. “The deadline is looming large, and it is petrifying.” [WSJ] — Eddie Small
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