The owner of Brent Cross Shopping Centre has declared that shops will no longer have rent free holidays as footfall slowly recovers nearing pre-Covid levels.

Commercial property owner Hammerson, that owns Brent Cross and the Birmingham Bullring, has revealed the number of shoppers heading to its sites has improved to between 15 per cent and 20 per cent below pre-pandemic levels.

Despite the numbers still being below what it normally would be, all rents must be paid, stated the Hammerson, adding: “We do not anticipate granting future concessions and all avenues to collect rents due are being pursued.”

Last year Hammerson said £30 million in rents were waived, written off or still not yet due, with £20 million in the same situation so far this year.

Around 94 per cent of rents owed from last have now been paid and 78 per cent of this year’s have also been paid, the company added.

Sites in the UK have performed best, including some shopping centres seeing footfall exceeding pre-pandemic levels on the August bank holiday weekend.

UK sales are now in line with August and September 2019 but these were dragged down by business in France, with sales down 4 per cent.

Rent collected in the final quarter of the year is at 70 per cent, with 74 per cent of rent collected in the UK, Ireland is at 71 per cent and France at 65 per cent.

Hugh Carrow, an analyst at Liberum, said: “While still subdued, we expect rent collection to continue to improve slightly with encouraging footfall trends given low restriction levels, although we still have concerns on whether levels will be sustained without international visitors returning ahead of the winter trading period.”

Shopping centres have struggled more than high streets and retail parks in terms of recovery since Covid restrictions eased, with shoppers keen to avoid confined spaces.