The closure of the "Home plus" chain of stores brought several dozen more empty stores to the domestic market, in the best locations throughout Serbia. This is an additional blow to the business space market, which has been seriously suffering in recent months, with two "fronts": affordable because tenants are looking for less rent due to less work, and what's worse - more and more tenants are returning to shop owners keys.

"For ten years, boss Simi and I have been paying for a bar in one of the central streets of the capital. the door of 'my former bar' still stands to be rented out ", says one owner of a well-known travel agency and adds that examples are not uncommon and where the key is given to the owners even after 20 years of lease.

At the same time, the pandemic closed a huge number of offices in Serbia, both temporarily and permanently. Many bars that were rented for small shops were also closed. And that's not the end of it - because even large companies are increasingly canceling the lease of large spaces in order to reduce costs.

Immediately after the introduction of the state of emergency in Serbia, rental prices began to fall, by up to 50 percent. Those who did not cancel the lease, agreed with the owners on a smaller rent or even a freeze for a certain period of time.

"A large number of companies reduce the number of employees who work from the office or transfer their entire business to work from home, of course if the business model allows it. For this reason, there is an imbalance in the market, where supply grows more than demand, and therefore according to the logic of the market mechanism, the prices of business premises are falling ", says Miloš Mitić, operational director in the City Expert real estate service, for Blic Biznis.

As he adds, as far as the bars themselves are concerned, we are witnesses that the pandemic has mostly endangered small businesses and businesses that come from specific activities such as tourism and catering. "A lot of these small companies rented shops and now, due to reduced income, they are forced to either negotiate with the owners of the shops about rent or to leave the space," says Mitic.

Kaća Lazarević, the owner of the "Kaća Lazarević nekretnine" agency, also says that small bars are mostly closed and advertised again.

"There are many smaller bars in which there was simply no work and whose owners had to lease them again. And there are many of them on offer today," says Lazarević.

Real estate expert Milić Đoković also believes that the demand for business premises and shops has decreased.

As he says for "Blic Biznis", those who rent the premises in a good place, try to agree with the owner, because it is not in anyone's interest to end that relationship, but that also means concessions.

"The business space is somewhat different, it happens that companies cancel the space, so let's say they leave only an office or two in order to maintain the business," our interlocutor estimates.

On the other hand, the largest number of those seeking the lease of business premises are IT companies. Business premises in shopping malls are also maintained, but that part of the market will also be dictated by the further epidemiological situation.