Retail trade sales moderated by 1.1% year-on-year in August, following a 2% increase in July, figures released on Wednesday by Statistics South Africa showed, as the sector continues to come under pressure from the weak economy.
The main contributors to the slight growth were sales in household furniture, appliances and equipment. Seasonally adjusted retail trade sales decreased by 0.9% in August 2019 compared with July 2019.
"This demonstrates retailers’ inability to pass on price increases amid intensified bargain hunting by consumers," said Siphamandla Mkhwanazi, Senior FNB Economist for Property and Consumer Economics
"Looking ahead, our expectation of lower interest rates combined with strong unsecured credit lending will provide auxiliary support for consumer spending," he added.
Mkhwanazi also mentioned that the numbers reflect a muted demand environment, as well as the recent low retail inflation readings, averaging just 2.4%.
The agency stated that seasonally adjusted retail trade sales in the three months to August increased by 0.7% compared with the previous three months.
South Africa's economy has been hit by persistent low growth levels, which have seen unemployment figures rise by 1.4 percentage points to 29% in the second quarter of the year.
The economy in the second quarter grew by 3.1%, but the growth was not enough to dent the country's high unemployment rate.