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According to, South Africa experienced a 5.05 % inflation increase from July 2017 to July 2018. 

This increase also came amidst a 1% VAT increase imposed from April this year, plus repeated petrol price increases which would have had a substantial impact on people’s monthly expenses.  

Despite these significant financial considerations, does this pressure on the South African consumer deter them from taking their holidays? 

Just ahead of the upcoming summer holiday break, Lightstone Explore has evaluated holiday activity in July 2017 and July 2018 to identify whether these economic pressures have caused any behavioural changes.

Linda Reid, Chief Commercial Officer said, “We looked at a sample of approximately 250,000 telemetered, passenger Tracker vehicles active on South African roads from July 2017 to July 2018 (to correspond with the government school, 4-term holiday timetable) and August (to correspond to the private school, 3-term timetable) holidays and analysed their behaviours based on where we know their general home area is vs the distances travelled, & the duration of absence during this period.”

Although there was a noticeable, but relatively small decrease in the number of people going on holiday – between -2% and -3% for the July and August holidays respectively,  the majority of the sample group behaved the same in 2018 as they had in 2017 (71% of the July sample group and 70% of the August sample group behaved the same as they did in the school holidays of the previous year). 

Fly holiday behaviours seemed to alternate between 2017 and 2018, which appears to be families travelling (we assume overseas) one year and staying at home the next

Interestingly, although we see a marginal difference as far as the amount of travellers vs people staying at home – 69% in 2018 vs 67% in 2017 stayed at home during the government school holidays and 69% vs 66% stayed at home during over the private school holidays; the distance travelled to longer-stay holiday destinations dropped -12% and -15% respectively.  

Private school travel holidays tended to be 11% shorter this year, dropping from an average of 22 nights away in 2017 to an average of 20 nights away this year.

A key observation of the research findings was that people changed their short vs long holiday behaviour patterns. People were 35% less likely to go away for longer than a 1-week holiday period in 2018 compared to 2017, but were 15% more likely to take shorter breaks instead.

An interesting reflection of these findings when specifically looking at mall visits was that although the year-on-year mall visits were consistently up in July, August and September, the time spent in the malls, specifically in the month of August, was up within the medium to high income brackets at the top 10 GLA (gross leasable area) malls nationwide. 

Another interesting observation of this study was that people, particularly those in medium to high income brackets, tended to stay at South Africa’s 10 largest malls for longer than in the 2018 vs 2017 holiday period. It was initially thought that visits to these 10 shopping centres were up in addition to dwell times, but after making provision for population growth and the growing number of cars on the road, this effect was barely noticeable.