- Year to date leasing volume through June 21, 2020 remains strong despite temporary business disruptions due to COVID-19 pandemic
- Many retailers experiencing strong pent up demand and increased sales per guest visit
COLUMBUS, Ohio–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Washington Prime Group Inc. (NYSE: WPG) today announced that the Company’s enclosed assets across the US have reopened for business. As previously stated, about 60% of the Company’s properties have an open air format and remained fully or partially open during the early stages of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. In addition, most WPG assets implemented curbside pickup and carryout food and beverage options during the second quarter.
All WPG centers are welcoming guests, with the exception of two properties in New York and one in New Jersey. Those properties currently offer partial retail operations including Retail to Go curbside pickup and instore shopping at locations with exterior entrances, as permitted by state law.
Lou Conforti, CEO and Director of Washington Prime Group stated: “Nearly 90% of WPG tenancy is back up and running and our retail partners are experiencing strong pent up demand as well as increased sales per guest visit. We’ve also seen the reopening of stores within WPG assets earlier when compared to other locations. In addition, we’re hearing from many of our retail partners their secondary market locations are outpacing sales in larger trade areas in general and at our assets in particular. While it sure hasn’t been easy, our conviction to serving as the dominant town center within our trade area is as strong as ever and we’re grateful our guests and tenants appear to agree.”
Conforti added: “We sure as heck didn’t sit still during the previous four months. In fact, during the months of March, April and May, in addition to the first three weeks of June, 165 leases were signed totaling 1.2M SF. Year to date, total leasing volume is already equal to the first six months of 2019 and we still have one more week remaining in the quarter.
“Importantly, WPG continues to serve as a resource to guests, tenants and partners during the COVID-19 pandemic. Take a look below for a recap of several ways we’ve been staying busy during this unprecedented time.”
- WPG Cares: The Company offered its assets and services to over 600 local, state, federal and nonprofit agencies combating COVID-19. To date, WPG has performed ~400 community service projects including serving as distribution centers for medical supplies, hosting of COVID-19 testing stations, providing space for food depository as well as immediate response actions. Asset participation with onsite management is nearly 100% (view WPG Cares here);
- Fulventory: The Company recently launched Fulventory, a last mile fulfilment initiative which allows tenants to utilize space within WPG assets for BOPIS (buy online and pickup in store) and inventory clearance. As BOPIS and BORIS continue to gain traction with consumers, Fulventory captures the nexus between physical space and eCommerce (view Fulventory here). For instance, WPG recently signed a lease with WVU Medicine to repurpose the ~80,000 SF former Sears location at Morgantown Mall, in Morgantown, West Virginia as a logistics, distribution and fulfillment center serving the broader WVU Medicine network;
- Open for Small Business: WPG established Open for Small Business in conjunction with University of Chicago’s Clinic on Entrepreneurship and faculty members (Nobel Laureate Richard Thaler and Freakonomics author Steven Levitt) in order to assist local entrepreneurs e.g. standardized lease modification. Open for Small Business also hosts educational webinars addressing such topics as accessing SBA capital and other relevant subject matter (view Open for Small Business here);
- ScholarSpree: #ScholarSpree is a celebration honoring high school seniors nationwide. WPG honored graduates with outdoor and digital events during COVID-19. Scheduled activities included a Class of 2020 digital mosaic and graduation cap (mortar board) design contest with a grand prize of $10,000;
- Well Picked Goods: Well Picked Goods is an initiative whereby WPG produces a weekly digital curation of merchandise from local entrepreneurs and national tenancy as selected by General Managers of a featured WPG town center. Intended to maintain consumer loyalty and incent a return to the physical asset, Well Picked Goods includes an in store gift card promotion subject to a minimum purchase as tenants reopen for business;
- Latinx Focus: As a substantial number of WPG assets cater to a Hispanic demographic constituency, Latinx is an initiative which allows Latin American retailers the ability to beta test US consumer receptivity to their product offerings via temporary (pop up) installations both inline and common area. In addition to physical locations, WPG will provide digital access throughout its entire portfolio as well as social media activation; and
- Retail to Go: WPG is of the belief there exists a symbiotic relationship between physical retailing and eCommerce. The key to successfully integrating the two is to provide guest convenience in conjunction with relevant goods and services and dynamic attractions which result in extended guest visitation. Retail to Go satisfies the convenience proposition while WPG continues to diversify tenancy and activate common area.
About Washington Prime Group Inc.
Washington Prime Group: National footprint with local flavor. With 100 town centers throughout the US, we’re as American as apple pie. As a matter of fact, we are also as American as deep dish pizza in Chicago, Hawaiian poke salad, vegan spring rolls in Malibu, El Paso Tex-Mex, Maryland crab cakes, kimchi in Orange County, Memphis barbeque and a Kansas City porterhouse. Our well regarded infrastructure, from Hawaii to Connecticut, and pretty much everywhere else in between, allows our tenant and sponsor partners to benefit from the operating efficacy and economies of scale at a large national real estate company, alongside local management who possess comprehensive knowledge of the specific locale within which they reside. Washington Prime Group® is a registered trademark of the Company. Learn more at www.washingtonprime.com.
This news release contains “forward-looking statements” within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995 which represent the current expectations and beliefs of management of Washington Prime Group Inc. (“WPG”) concerning the proposed transactions, the anticipated consequences and benefits of the transactions and the targeted close date for the transactions, and other future events and their potential effects on WPG, including, but not limited to, statements relating to anticipated financial and operating results, the Company’s plans, objectives, expectations and intentions, cost savings and other statements, including words such as “anticipate,” “believe,” “confident,” “plan,” “estimate,” “expect,” “intend,” “will,” “should,” “may,” and other similar expressions. Such statements are based upon the current beliefs and expectations of WPG’s management, and involve known and unknown risks, uncertainties, and other factors which may cause the actual results, performance, or achievements of WPG to be materially different from future results, performance or achievements expressed or implied by such forward-looking statements. Such factors include, without limitation: changes in asset quality and credit risk; ability to sustain revenue and earnings growth; changes in political, economic or market conditions generally and the real estate and capital markets specifically; the impact of increased competition; the availability of capital and financing; tenant or joint venture partner(s) bankruptcies; the failure to increase store occupancy and same-store operating income; risks associated with the acquisition, disposition, (re)development, expansion, leasing and management of properties; changes in market rental rates; trends in the retail industry; relationships with anchor tenants; risks relating to joint venture properties; costs of common area maintenance; competitive market forces; the level and volatility of interest rates; the rate of revenue increases as compared to expense increases; the financial stability of tenants within the retail industry; the restrictions in current financing arrangements or the failure to comply with such arrangements; the liquidity of real estate investments; the impact of changes to tax legislation and WPG’s tax positions; losses associated with closures, failures and stoppages associated with the spread and proliferation of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic; to qualify as a real estate investment trust; the failure to refinance debt at favorable terms and conditions; loss of key personnel; material changes in the dividend rates on securities or the ability to pay dividends on common shares or other securities; possible restrictions on the ability to operate or dispose of any partially-owned properties; the failure to achieve earnings/funds from operations targets or estimates; the failure to achieve projected returns or yields on (re)development and investment properties (including joint ventures); expected gains on debt extinguishment; changes in generally accepted accounting principles or interpretations thereof; terrorist activities and international hostilities; the unfavorable resolution of legal or regulatory proceedings; the impact of future acquisitions and divestitures; assets that may be subject to impairment charges; significant costs related to environmental issues; changes in LIBOR reporting practices or the method in which LIBOR is determined; and other risks and uncertainties, including those detailed from time to time in WPG’s statements and periodic reports filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission, including those described under “Risk Factors”. The forward-looking statements in this communication are qualified by these risk factors. Each statement speaks only as of the date of this press release and WPG undertakes no obligation to update or revise any forward-looking statements to reflect new information, subsequent events or circumstances. Actual results may differ materially from current projections, expectations, and plans, if any. Investors, potential investors and others should give careful consideration to these risks and uncertainties.