/ 16 November 2022

Load-shedding weighs heavy on retail sales

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Retail trade sales fell by 1.9% in the third quarter, the second consecutive quarter of decline after the 1.1% drop in the second quarter.

Retail trade sales were down 0.6% year-on-year in September, dragged lower by the hardware, paint and glass, and food and beverages categories, according to Statistics South Africa (Stats SA) data released on Wednesday, 16 November.

Raquel Floris, the deputy director for distributive trade statistics at Stats SA, said hardware, paint and glass recorded a 15th consecutive quarter of year-on-year decline, decreasing by 8% in September. Retailers in food and beverages declined by 8.1%. 

Other retailers who performed poorly in September include those specialising in pharmaceuticals and medical goods, and those specialising in household goods. 

“The September release concludes the results for the third quarter of 2022. Retail trade sales decreased in the third quarter by 1.9%, on a seasonally adjusted basis. This represents the second consecutive quarter of decline following the 1.1% decrease in the second quarter,” Floris said. 

Investec economist Lara Hodes had forecast that retail trade sales would ease in September, likely contracting by around 0.8% year-on-year. 

“Persistent, heightened load-shedding in September would have weighed on retailers’ ability to operate optimally while also weighing heavily on confidence of consumers, who are grappling with rising debt costs and declining real incomes,” Hodes said.  

The Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) recently said that September 2022 recorded more load-shedding than the entire 2020.

Economists from Nedbank had forecast an annual growth of 1.2% in September, down from 2% in August. They said the slower increase would reflect the impact of the higher cost of living, primarily emanating from food and fuel prices and rising interest rates. 

“The deteriorating growth prospects and the fragile job market are also weighing on consumer confidence, causing households to contain spending on non-essentials.”