Signs of return to confidence for business and consumers - index

Johannesburg – The BankservAfrica Economic Transaction Index (Beti) shows a slight drop in transactional growth to 3% in February from 3.5% in January.

According to Beti data, growth between January and February was almost flat, similar to that between December and January. The seasonally adjusted and standardised Beti figure adjusted for inflation continues to show a flat trend between these months.

Economists dotcoza chief economist Mike Schüssler said the data suggests that movement in the agricultural and mining sectors is not strong as before.

“Consumer spend and retail sales have also slowed down after a very active November and December spending period,” Schüssler said.

Regardless of the slight decline in transactional growth, there are signs of a return to confidence for businesses and consumers. The number of monthly transactions at 94.6 million was the highest level of growth since February 2013.

According to Schüssler, the Beti's non-decline in the last four months - the longest in nearly five years - is also grounds for optimism. The last time the index recorded no monthly declines for four consecutive months was in April 2013.

The Beti results "suggest that there is a positive sentiment in the country enabling a new, higher level of economic transactional activity", said Schüssler.

BankservAfrica head: stakeholder engagements Shergeran Naidoo said: “Despite the growth in the number of transactions, the average size of the transactions declined by 2.6% on a year-on-year basis in nominal terms.”

In the future

The imminent value-added tax (VAT) hike and the tax on sugary drinks are set to affect transactional activity. March transactional numbers expected to be more positive as consumers are likely to buy more non-perishable products before the higher VAT rate sets in.

The lower petrol price is also expected to leave consumers with some spare cash which could also be used to buy non-perishable goods.

Schüssler said the data supplied “gives us reason to believe that sustained growth will continue, but most likely not at the same levels as 2017 due to the soon-to-be implemented VAT and sugar tax changes in April”.

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