Filomena Scalise

Johannesburg - The seasonally adjusted Trade Activity Index (TAI) increased slightly by one index point to 51 in April, the SA Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Sacci) said on Tuesday.

The unadjusted TAI declined from 54 to 49 in the same month, it said in a statement.

“This indicates the influence of fewer trading days in April due to public holidays.”

Sacci said between April last year and April this year the TAI declined substantially by 12 index points.

Retail sales volumes increased by 1.6 percent year-on-year while real lending to households decreased by 1.2 percent year-on-year.

“Household spending, the decrease in real household credit, and the tight financial circumstances facing households play an important role in current trade conditions,” the chamber said.

The sales volumes sub-index declined by 11 index points in April to 48 while inventories and supplier deliveries remained stable and positive.

“Although cost pressures appear to be easing, the sales price index at 64 and the input price index at 74 still indicate broad-based price pressures in the trade environment,” said Sacci.

“The rand exchange rate continued to improve in April 2014 and presents the prospect of lower imported cost pressures.”

Price expectations (sales and input) eased substantially from the beginning of the year, but remained high with the respective indices at 67 and 77 in April.

The seasonally adjusted trade expectations index (TEI) declined in April for the first time this year to 56, from 58 in March, and 62 a year ago.

Expectations for the sales component of trade activity declined from 67 to 64, but expected orders remained unchanged in April. - Sapa