Cape Town - The rapid increase in the middle class in South Africa and population growth in the last two decades were among the factors that led to substantial growth of the informal or independent retail trade sector.

The sector boasts R46 billion in annual sales, with more than 9 million households shopping in traditional trade stores, according to a report by consumer behaviour monitor, Nielsen South Africa.

The traditional trade sector fared well against the modern trade sector, experiencing continued increase in sales and shopper loyalty and achieving a 10 percent annual increase in spend – 1 percent more than modern trade growth.

Overall, traditional trade also saw a 7 percent increase in the number of goods sold, 3 percent higher than that achieved by the modern trade.

There are more than 134 000 traditional trade stores, with 81 587 and 52 472 of them located in urban and rural settlements respectively.

Over the years, the traditional trade sector has seen a shift in the presence of outlets in mostly rural areas, to the majority of them being concentrated in Gauteng (28 674).

However, 80 percent of traditional trade shoppers also shop at modern trade retailers such as Shoprite, while 53 percent of those households also shop at Pick n Pay and Spar. But compared with supermarkets, which shoppers visited once a week, shoppers visited spazas more than four times, which provided greater brand exposure opportunity.

SUNDAY WEEKEND ARGUS