July retail sales have declined by 9% year-on-year, according to data released by Stats SA on Tuesday.
This means that annual retail sales have declined for a fourth month in a row despite a progressive easing of lockdown restrictions.
Prior to the release, economists had largely expected another decline, although projections were for a smaller fall that June, when dipped by 7.2% year-on-year. Investec economist Kamilla Kaplan had pencilled in a contraction of 5.3% for July.
In a weekly outlook report, FNB said that it would take "some time" for retail sales to recover more meaningfully, especially for discretionary purchases given a "sharp downturn" in income prospects.
Stats SA data showed that the biggest annual decline for July was reported for "other" retailers, a category that include stores specialising in stationery, jewelry and sport goods. Their annual sales fell by 39.1%.
Retailers of food, beverages and tobacco in specialised stores experienced a fall of 18.4%, while the textiles, clothing, footwear and leather goods sector reported a decline of 13.8%. General dealers reported a fall of 3.2%.
Consumers did, however, spend more on household goods, Stats SA noted. Retailers specialising in furniture, appliances and hardware, and stores focussing on pharmaceuticals and medical goods also reported positive gains.