Gen­eral deal­ers help boost re­tail sales

An­nual growth rate at 3.8%

The Star Early Edition - - COMPANIES - Ni­cola Maw­son

RE­TAIL sales grew 3.8per­cent last Novem­ber, when mea­sured in con­stant 2012 prices.

In a state­ment is­sued yesterday, Sta­tis­tics SA said the high­est an­nual growth rates were recorded for re­tail­ers in hard­ware, paint and glass, phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals and med­i­cal goods, cos­met­ics and toi­letries and gen­eral deal­ers.

It said the main con­trib­u­tors to the 3.8per­cent in­crease were gen­eral deal­ers.

Sea­son­ally ad­justed re­tail trade sales in­creased by 3.5 per­cent month on month last Novem­ber. This fol­lowed mon­thon-month changes of neg­a­tive 0.6 per­cent last Oc­to­ber and 0.8 per­cent last Septem­ber.

Stats SA added that in the three months to Novem­ber, sea­son­ally ad­justed re­tail trade sales in­creased by 1.7 per­cent com­pared with the pre­vi­ous three months.

Paul Si­rani, the chief mar­ket an­a­lyst at Xtrade, noted th­ese fig­ures could show signs of an eco­nomic turn­around.

“2016 was a wor­ry­ing year for re­tail­ers in South Africa, with new credit reg­u­la­tions re­strict­ing the in­dus­try and con­sumers across the coun­try strapped for cash.

“Yet, to­day’s num­bers show­ing an uptick in spend­ing for Novem­ber could be the green shoots of recovery head­ing into 2017. Fi­nance Min­is­ter Pravin Gord­han, who has had a roller-coaster year, will be hop­ing that fig­ures like this will help ac­cel­er­ate growth at the World Bank’s new 1.1per­cent-a-year fore­cast.”

He added: “De­cem­ber’s fes­tive trad­ing fig­ures are now ea­gerly an­tic­i­pated, with any no­table jump ex­pected to in­vite in in­vestors.”

De­cem­ber is tra­di­tion­ally a bumper month for re­tail­ers due to fes­tive and back-toschool spend­ing.

How­ever, Ja­son Mus­cat, FNB’s se­nior eco­nomic an­a­lyst, said the uptick was likely to be short lived.

He said the gain, off the back of a con­tra­dic­tion in Oc­to­ber, might in­di­cate that con­sumers de­layed pur­chases in the first month of the quar­ter in or­der to take ad­van­tage of Black Fri­day deals in Novem­ber. He said this was given cre­dence by the 3.5 per­cent mon­thon-month jump from Oc­to­ber.

Gen­eral deal­ers ex­panded sales by 4.7per­cent, hard­ware by 5.4per­cent and pharma re­tail­ers by 4.9 per­cent.

Food and beverage sales growth, at 2.7per­cent, mod­er­ated some­what from Oc­to­ber, while cloth­ing sales continued to dis­ap­point in light of stricter lend­ing cri­te­ria and neg­a­tive real credit ex­ten­sion growth, Mus­cat said.

He added that the mis­ery continued for fur­ni­ture re­tail­ers, with the sec­tor con­tract­ing 0.8per­cent year on year.

“We ex­pect that the re­vival in the month will be short lived, and that year-on-year De­cem­ber sales will dis­ap­point given high levels of pre-De­cem­ber buy­ing and this morn­ing’s 6.8 per­cent year-on-year in­fla­tion print for the month.”

FNB added there was un­likely to be any in­ter­est rate re­lief for con­sumers given the sticky in­fla­tion num­bers. “The Fe­bru­ary bud­get speech will pro­vide a clearer pic­ture of what to ex­pect in terms of fis­cal tight­en­ing and likely tax in­creases.” – Busi­ness Re­port On­line, go to www.bus­rep.co.za

PHOTO: SIM­PHIWE MBOKAZI

Cam­bridge foods in Soweto. Sta­tis­tics SA says Novem­ber re­tail sales grew 3.8 per­cent, with the big­gest con­trib­u­tor to that in­crease be­ing from gen­eral deal­ers, which in­creased sales by 4.7 per­cent. An­a­lysts warn, how­ever, that the uptick may be short lived.

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