Business Maverick


FNB data show South Africans went on a Valentine’s Day spending splurge

FNB data show South Africans went on a Valentine’s Day spending splurge
(Photo: Gallo Images / Fani Mahuntsi)

While the drums of war were beating in eastern Europe, it seems that Cupid’s arrow was zinging around South Africa. According to FNB, South Africans went on a Valentine’s Day spending splurge. Winners included restaurants, spas and cinemas – and good on them after the pandemic pounding they have taken.

Love has been in the air in South Africa this summer. According to FNB, South Africans sloshed out like drunken sailors on items related to Valentine’s Day.

“…restaurants, spas and cinemas received a significant boost in the weeks before and during Valentine’s Day as credit, debit and fusion card spend increased compared with the same period last year. When compared with February of last year, data from FNB customers showed that spend at restaurants was 45% higher, with spas up 36%, and cinemas saw a 228% increase,” the bank said in a statement. 

Other subsectors also got a Valentine’s-related boost. FNB said that chocolatiers saw a 62% increase in spend on last year while flower sales blossomed, rising 81%. 

A number of factors are clearly at work here, beyond romance and the wooing of significant others. 

The loosening of Covid-19 restrictions is certainly one, as well as an easing of concerns about the pandemic among a population that now has a fully vaccinated rate of almost 30%. Covid fatigue has also set in and South Africans – like almost everyone else, everywhere else – just want a return to normal. Flocking to the cinema is a clear sign of that. 

One upshot of all of this is pent-up demand, which is now translating into increased retail sales. 

The latest data from Statistics South Africa showed retail trade sales rose year on year in December by 3.1%, picking up the pace after 2.7% growth in November. For all of 2021, there was growth of 6.4% after the calamity that was 2021, when retail trade sales tanked under the hammer of hard lockdowns. 

It’s doubtful that overall retail sales in January and February will match the spending surge on Valentine’s-related items, which would have come overwhelmingly from the middle- and upper-income brackets. 

But good on the likes of restaurants, spas and cinemas after the pounding they have taken under the often draconian restrictions to contain the pandemic. They were in need of some Valentine’s cheer. And these are sectors that are labour intensive, so it is a rare piece of good news on the jobs front as well. The next theme-related sales indicator will be Easter (such items are already in the shops!) and not just for chocolate eggs – after back-to-back bans on retail booze sales over the long Easter weekend, expect the bottles to fly off the shelves this year. DM/BM 


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