(Adds info on shopkeepers’ rental exemption during malls closure)
By Gabriela Mello
SAO PAULO, March 23 (Reuters) - Brazilian malls industry group Abrasce said on Monday that 550 malls, or 95% of all malls in the country, are affected by county and state decrees ordering closure of non-essential commercial activities.
Abrasce noted that 182 of the closed 550 malls are in Sao Paulo state, Brazil’s industrial, business and financial engine.
Earlier on Monday, upscale malls operator Iguatemi Empresa de Shopping Centers SA announced it was shutting four malls in Sao Paulo, while rival brMalls said it would close all its 31 units.
In a separate statement, Abrasce noted the sector employs about 3 million people in Brazil and is focused on preserving these jobs.
In this context, malls operators will exempt shopkeepers from rent while stores are closed to comply with authorities’ rules on social isolation, according to local shopkeepers association Alshop.
“These measures will add to others that we had already obtained in agreement with the government, such as reduced credit lines, tax reductions, among others,” said Alshop’s president, Nabil Sahyoun.
March rent will be charged proportionally and payment will be negotiated later. Maintenance cleaning and energy fees will also be relaxed, Alshop said. (Reporting by Gabriela Mello Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Richard Chang)