Australian retailers, following the lead of their hard-hit US and British counterparts, are demanding Australia's biggest shopping centre landlords give rent holidays and reduce fees under the threat of closing their stores.

Rent breaks or store closures would severely eat into the profit forecasts of the world's biggest shopping centre owner, Westfield Group, and others such as the troubled Centro Properties Group, the Commonwealth Bank-managed CFS Retail Property Trust, GPT, Lend Lease, AMP and Macquarie CountryWide Trust.

'In Australia, the worst case scenario for Westfield and other owners is an empty shopping centre,' said Australian Retailers Association executive director Richard Evans. 'Consumers do not like shopping in empty centres.'

The Australian