Statistics South Africa (StatsSA) said yesterday that retailers in food, beverages and tobacco grew 4.5percent during the month. StatsSA said household furniture, appliances and equipment retailers jumped 3.2percent, but hardware, paint and glass retailers declined 2.5percent.
Economists believe that October’s marginal year-on-year growth was the latest indication that retailers and consumers were battling South Africa’s constrained economic environment.
Investec’s Lara Hodes said October’s reading continued to indicate the constrained domestic demand environment, weakened by muted economic growth. Hodes said the subdued retail inflation reading, which was hovering below the Consumer Price Index, further evidenced the plight of retailers, whose margins continue to remain suppressed in a highly competitive environment. She said the situation was also dire for consumers.
“Consumers continue to face a myriad of challenges, including structurally high unemployment rates,amid a sluggish labour market, slowing wage growth and markedly higher administered prices,” Hodes said.