Business Maverick


SA retail trade sales slump in February after January spending spree

SA retail trade sales slump in February after January spending spree
(Photo: Leila Dougan)

South African retail trade sales slumped in February, the latest data set that is pointing to a mixed economic performance at the start of 2022.

After going on a spending binge in January, South Africans were hardly flocking to the shops in February. 

Retail trade sales that month fell 0.9% year on year, Statistics South Africa (Stats SA) said on Wednesday. This compared with market expectations of a 1.1% increase. On a seasonally adjusted monthly basis, retail trade was down 0.5% from January. 

Muted demand pressures are no surprise in an economy with an unemployment rate of over 35% that is also grappling with slowly rising interest rates and consumer inflation that is close to 6% and expected to remain on the boil for some time in the face of surging food and fuel prices. 

Still, other data sets have pointed to a reasonable start to 2022 for the South African economy, which grew by 4.9% last year after contracting by 6.4% in 2020. On the retail front, sales rose by 6.4% last year after contracting by 7.1% in 2020 and had got off to a flying start in January 2022, climbing by 7.7% year on year. 

So, it could be the case that February was just a blip and the March read could be stronger. New vehicle sales, for example, have been robust, which is partly a reflection of pent-up demand. And the BankservAfrica Economic Transaction Index (Beti), a measurement of economic transactions between South Africa’s banks calculated by, reached an all-time high in March of 135.9 index points. 

“The Beti figures correspond to the robust new vehicle sales, the Absa Purchasing Managers’ Index, and other well-performing economic sectors,” said BankservAfrica.  

Other indicators paint a decidedly mixed economic start to 2022. Output in South Africa’s manufacturing sector grew by a paltry 0.2% on a year-on-year basis in February and fell on a monthly basis by 1.1%. 

And domestic retail fuel prices have hit record highs while food inflation remains elevated, not least because of Russia’s war in Ukraine. The South African consumer is becoming hard-pressed. In such an environment, expect consumers to think twice before they open their wallets. DM/BM 


Comments - Please in order to comment.

Please peer review 3 community comments before your comment can be posted


This article is free to read.

Sign up for free or sign in to continue reading.

Unlike our competitors, we don’t force you to pay to read the news but we do need your email address to make your experience better.

Nearly there! Create a password to finish signing up with us:

Please enter your password or get a sign in link if you’ve forgotten

Open Sesame! Thanks for signing up.

MavericKids vol 3

How can a child learn to read if they don't have a book?

81% of South African children aged 10 can't read for meaning. You can help by pre-ordering a copy of MavericKids.

For every copy sold we will donate a copy to Gift of The Givers for children in need of reading support.

A South African Hero: You

There’s a 99.8% chance that this isn’t for you. Only 0.2% of our readers have responded to this call for action.

Those 0.2% of our readers are our hidden heroes, who are fuelling our work and impacting the lives of every South African in doing so. They’re the people who contribute to keep Daily Maverick free for all, including you.

The equation is quite simple: the more members we have, the more reporting and investigations we can do, and the greater the impact on the country.

Be part of that 0.2%. Be a Maverick. Be a Maverick Insider.

Support Daily Maverick→
Payment options