South Africa’s lockdown, which started on 27 March, has been imposed for almost four months and has resulted in the closure of many businesses.
A large number of companies which are still alive are struggling to keep their doors open as a result of the lockdown regulations.
Restaurants and retail stores are particularly hard-hit, which has a knock-on effect on commercial landlords and shopping mall operators.
Shopping centre owners have been struggling to collect rent as the COVID-19 pandemic prevented many of their clients from operating at full capacity.
In some cases, shopping mall landlords have been working with tenants to prevent store closures which will leave them with empty retail spaces.
While deferrals, discounts, and restructuring of rent have helped many retail stores to weather the storm, the impact on landlords is significant.
Rebosis Property Fund’s retail properties, for example, were revalued downwards by 21% because of the impact of the lockdown.
Growthpoint Properties, which owns many of South Africa’s top shopping malls, expects unusually high rental arrears from tenants.
Growthpoint said restaurant tenants were taking a lot of strain and that many other trading categories’ arrears are expected to sit at higher levels than they have ever seen before.
While talk about valuations, rental arrears, and a higher percentage of empty retail spaces sounds like corporate jargon, a walk around shopping malls shows how real the problem is.
Many stores have closed, with their windows now sporting their landlord’s branding with “To Rent” signs.
The photos below were taken at prominent shopping malls in Gauteng over the weekend, clearly showing the impact of the COVID-19 lockdown on the retail sector.
Menlyn Retail Park
Parkview shopping centre
Restaurants hit hard
Restaurants are particularly hard-hit by the COVID-19 lockdown – first because they were prohibited from operating and then by the limitations on alcohol use.
Many restaurant owners said it is impossible for them to break even with the current regulatory restrictions.
In an attempt to highlight the cause of restaurants, the industry is planning a protest on 22 July by placing a million seats on the streets around South Africa.
The Restaurant Association of South Africa is promoting this protect through the hashtag #jobssavelives.
“Dear Mr President – We cordially invite you to take up a seat at any of our empty tables to talk to us about the hardship we are facing,” a promotional poster states.
This planned protest follows numerous restaurants posting photos of how many jobs are at risk, or can be lost, because of the lockdown rules.
Here are a few of the photos posted by the restaurants on social media.