Results reported by listed property owners in recent weeks confirm that vacancies in shopping centres across SA are on the rise as more retailers are forced to downsize or put expansion plans on hold. Tougher trading conditions have already started to translate into lower or even negative dividend growth numbers. Liberty Two Degrees (L2D), which owns stakes in iconic centres such as Johannesburg’s Sandton City, Eastgate Mall and Melrose Arch, last week reported negative year-on-year dividend growth of -0.8% for the six months to June 30. The firm’s retail vacancies increased from 1.8% to 4.3% in the 12 months ending June. Accelerate Property Fund, which owns a number of shopping centres in Johannesburg’s Fourways node, including Fourways Mall, Cedar Square and Leaping Frog, reported zero dividend growth for the year ending March. Vacancies in Accelerate’s portfolio are up from 6.9% to 10%, while rentals have also come under pressure, with rental reversions on new leases dropping by ...

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