Second wave of Covid-19 caused a setback trade conditions over holiday period – index

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Trade conditions took a knock over December and January.
Trade conditions took a knock over December and January.
Westend61
  • The South African Chamber of Commerce and Industry released its trade conditions survey for January 2021.
  • Trade activity declined significantly in December and January, as the second wave of Covid-10 infections hit, followed by subsequent lockdown restrictions.
  • Employment in the trade sector weakened slightly, but respondents are positive jobs will increase in the next six months.

Trade activity took a knock in December and January, following the impact of a second wave of Covid-19 infections and the subsequent reintroduction of stringent lockdown conditions over the holiday period, an index revealed.

The South African Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SACCI) on Wednesday released its January 2021 Trade Conditions Survey.

The trade activity index declined substantially from 47 points in November to 39 points in December and even further to 34 points in January. "The second wave of Covid-19 infections and the return to a more stringent lockdown in December 2020 caused a setback in trade conditions during the holiday period in December 2020 and in January 2021," the report read.

Other factors apart from the pandemic which respondents were concerned about include "slow business momentum, uncertainties about the timing and duration of lockdowns, collapsing infrastructure, lack of maintenance and poor service delivery on local government level."

According to the survey, 66% of respondents experienced the worse trade conditions in January 2021 than January 2020.

The trade expectations index also declined from 43 points in December to 38 points in January. 

"The six-month expectations on components such as sales and orders did not weaken as much as for recent trade conditions. Expectations of lower supplies and declining inventories were more evident in the January 2021 survey," the report read.

SACCI noted that the deteriorating trade conditions did not have a significant effect on prices. "Present as well as expected sales prices did not change materially in December 2020 and January 2021."

Sales prices remain under downward pressure while input prices trend upwards. This is also the

Employment conditions also weakened slightly in the sector, "38% of respondents were positive on employment in January 2021 compared to 43% in November 2020," the report read.

Respondents however expect an increase in jobs over the next six months.

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