SOUTH Africa’s peak festive season spending made a slight comeback as sales over this December period beat the previous year’s levels to reach R93 billion, which meant a 35 percent annual improvement, according to BankservAfrica’s Point-of-Sales (POS) data of the transactions processed.
BankservAfrica head of customer relations Solly Bellingan said yesterday that the volume of transactions totalled 121 billion, which was a 10 percent growth on the 110 billion reported in December 2020.
BankservAfrica said the highest value of spending occurred at supermarkets and grocery stores with R18bn (an 8 percent annual improvement), service stations at R6bn (a 29 percent year-on-year improvement) and clothing stores at R3bn (a 66 percent year-on-year improvement) in December.
The volumes were the highest at eating places and restaurants, which reflected year-on-year growth of 26 percent and a total value of R2bn sales. These figures are unlike December 2020, where stricter lockdown levels from alert level 2 to alert level 3 on December, 29, 2020 prohibited restaurants, bars and shops from selling alcohol and operated under curfew times.
The automated payments clearing house said that the relaxed level last month may have been the reason for the stronger spending in the days after Christmas and the days leading to new year. On New Year’s Eve, spending reached R2bn, which was 41 percent higher than December, 31, 2020. The 2021 volumes were at 4 480 654, or 32 percent, higher than the previous year.
The amount of cash circulating in South Africa was also in high numbers last month. BankservAfrica’s Integrated Cash Management Service (ICMS) data showed commercial banks placed a R89bn in physical cash orders for their respective ATM and branch networks over the December 2021 period. This was 1 percent down from the R91bn total in December 2020.
The peak days for cash orders occurred between December 15 and 17 . These include South Africa’s Day of Reconciliation on December 16 and the days leading up to the long weekend and beginning of the year-end break for many.
On a regional basis, Gauteng (which includes the cash orders from the Free State, North West and Limpopo) recorded the highest cash orders at R52bn, followed by the Western Cape at R20bn, KwaZulu-Natal at R17bn and Eastern Cape at R8 million.
Bellingan said last month certainly carried stronger spending compared to last year’s holiday period, which would have given a boost to the economy and relief to industries following the challenging 2021.
At the beginning of December last year, BankservAfrica’s overall Card POS transactional data showed that the total Black Friday 2021 sales volumes improved by 10 percent. It said that its overall numbers for Black Friday on November, 26, 2021, showed volumes were 5.2 million compared with the 4.7 million in 2020. The total value of transactions was R3.3bn, representing a 17 percent growth from the R2.9bn for Black Friday 2020.
BUSINESS REPORT ONLINE