Retail sales lose that festive cheer, first slump in 22 months

By Ana Monteiro

(Bloomberg) – South African retail sales slumped unexpectedly for the first time in 22 months in December.

Sales contracted 1.4% from a year earlier, compared with a revised 2.9% increase in November, Pretoria-based Statistics South Africa said in a report on its website Wednesday. That’s the first time sales declined since February 2017.

retail sales

Key insights:

  • The median of 10 economists’ estimates was for expansion of 2.5% in December.
  • Retailers including Shoprite Holdings Ltd., the continent’s biggest grocer, have reported slower growth that reflects the country’s weakened economic outlook.
  • Lower-income consumers are struggling most of all because of higher fuel prices and increased value-added tax.
  • Africa’s most-industrialised economy hasn’t expanded by more than 2% a year since 2013, and the central bank in January cut its forecast for growth in gross domestic product this year to 1.7% from 1.9%.