FILE- In this Nov. 23, 2018, file photo shoppers browse the aisles during a Black Friday sale at a Target store in Newport, Ky. November retail trade sales jumped to their highest year-on-year growth since the Easter holiday in April (AP Photo/John Minchillo, File)
JOHANNESBURG - November retail trade sales jumped to their highest year-on-year growth since the Easter holiday in April, buoyed by the significant increase in Black Friday discounts at the end of the same month.

Statistics South Africa (StatsSA) said yesterday that retail trade sales increased by 2.6percent year-on-year in November 2019, the biggest rise since the 2.7percent April increase.

StatsSA said retailers in food, beverages and tobacco in specialised stores, general dealers and retailers in household furniture, appliances and equipment, textiles, clothing, footwear and leather goods recorded the largest annual growth rates. Keshnee Naidoo, a director for distributive trade statistics at StatsSA, said Black Friday was the main driving force behind the South African retail growth in November.

“Food and beverages stores benefited the most in November, increasing sales by 6.2percent - the biggest year-on-year jump in food and drink sales since June 2017. South African shoppers also focused their attention on household furniture and appliances in November, driving sales up by 3.2percent,” Naidoo said.

“Clothing stores and retailers specialising in hardware, paint and glass also saw positive gains. On the downside, retailers specialising in pharmaceuticals, medical goods and cosmetics saw their sales sump by 1.9percent year-on-year in November.”

Seasonally adjusted retail trade sales increased by 3.1percent in November from 0.1percent in October, but this does not yet fully account for the Black Friday effect as the adjustment models were based on long-time series.

StatsSA said in the three months to November 2019, seasonally adjusted retail trade sales increased by 1.2percent compared with the previous three months.

Black Friday trading volumes spiked by 400percent, compared to an average trading day.

The average transactional value per basket this year was R1406, compared with R1502 in 2018.

Overall, there was a 35percent year-on-year transactional volume growth for the Black Friday and Cyber Monday shopping week.

The American day of discounted bargains has had a substantial and growing upward impact on retail trade in November in recent years since it started to be observed in South Africa.

Senior economist at FNB, Siphamandla Mkhwanazi said the Black Friday sales hike was consistent with their view that households had become more price-sensitive and were more inclined to buy goods on special.

Mkhwanazi said it was possible that consumers used the Black Friday opportunity to front load their customary Christmas shopping, which could suggest relatively subdued shopping activity in December.

“Notwithstanding the encouraging November outcome, the overall year-to-date retail sales growth trajectory continues to depict a muted demand environment,” Mkhwanazi said. “This is reflected in the persistently low retail inflation readings, which remain below headline inflation levels. This demonstrates retailers’ continued inability to pass on price increases amid intensified bargain hunting.”

BUSINESS REPORT