Durban - South Africans spent R6-billion in online shopping this year, up from R4.8bn last year. And with malls frantic before Christmas, clicking rather than queueing to buy is increasingly appealing to the growing online population.
Arthur Goldstuck, managing director of World Wide Worx, the leading independent technology research and strategy organisation, said online shopping was increasing by about 35 percent a year in South Africa.
“This is still less than one percent of the total retail spend of R751bn forecast by the Bureau of Market Research, but the curve is constantly rising,” he said.
“The figures will have to grow tenfold for it to have a significant impact on the economy, but fairly strong growth is predicted for the next few years.
“Only when people have been using the internet for five years or more do they become comfortable with buying online, but once they start spending online, that amount rises every year.”
Kirby Gordon, of online shopping store Kalahari, said the increase in year-on-year sales had been “sensational” with two trends emerging.
“The first is the continuation of an existing trend where people are moving their online surfing and shopping habits from traditional PCs to mobile devices.
“The other shift is the extension into new categories. Over the past 18 months, we have extended our range, from the traditional books and electronics to sunscreen, power tools and camping gear,” he said.
The top orders this month included DStv HD decoders, biltong makers and the DVD of How to Train Your Dragon 2.
Most online shops need orders this week to ensure delivery before Christmas, with the exception of Kalahari.com, which will be accepting orders until December 22, as long as the shopper orders “48-hour stock” and lives in a major centre.
Sumesh Rahavendra, a spokesperson for DHL Express, said they had seen a definite increase in deliveries this month.
Rahavendra warned first-time online shoppers that if they wanted to buy from an overseas retailer, they should remember they would have to pay import duty.
In a survey by eBucks Rewards, 2 000 people were asked about their online shopping habits and more than a third said their main reason for shopping online was to compare prices. Other motivations included convenience, delivery options and finding items not available in shops.
Jolandé Duvenage, chief executive of eBucks Rewards, said: “We see that as soon as people start shopping online, they realise the benefits it offers. In the eBucks Shop, we’re already on 39 percent growth.”
In a separate survey by Multiply, the rewards programme offered by Momentum, it was found shoppers were using rewards programme points and discounts to stretch their budgets.
“South Africans are increasingly counting on rewards programmes, particularly at a time of the year when pressure on personal finances is high,” said Jaco Oosthuizen, chief executive of Multiply.
“They’re increasingly wising up to the benefits of rewards programmes, and how they can reduce festive season financial pressures by using discounts and vouchers.”
More than 40 percent of those polled said they used a combination of cash and rewards programme points to buy gifts and some said they saved up their rewards points and discounts throughout the year.