16 April 2021 – South Africa’s retail trade sales unexpectedly rebounded in February and rose 2.3 percent from a year earlier, recovering from an upwardly revised 3.7 percent contraction in January.
Statistics South Africa (StatsSA) said today this was the first positive reading in retail activity since March 2020 amid the relaxation of the country’s lockdown restrictions following a substantial decline in Covid-19 infections.
This March reading was also better than market expectations of a 1.8 percent fall.
StatsSA said five of the seven retail categories recorded an increase in sales in February.
Household furniture, appliances and equipment had the biggest positive impact on growth of retail activity as it climbed 17.3 percent year-on-year.
Clothing, footwear and leather goods, and general dealers were the second biggest positive contributor to the reading with a 12.3 percent year-on-year increase.
StatsSA’s deputy director for distributive trade statistics, Raquel Floris, said retailers in food and beverages stores, and those specialising in hardware, paint and glass, also recorded positive results in February.
“On the downside, pharmaceuticals, medical and cosmetics stores were just on a 1.9 percent year-on-year decrease in sales in February.
“The category referred to as all other retailers also performed poorly, recording a 23.6 percent decline. This category includes smaller retailers such as stationery shops and jewellery stores.”
However, StatsSA said retail trade sales fell by 0.9 percent in the three months ended February compared with the three months ended February last year. Source (Business Report)