Household spending falls, says Reserve Bank

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Pretoria - Spending by households fell by 5.8 percent in the second quarter of 2009, the South African Reserve Bank (SARB) said on Thursday.

"The rate of decline in real final consumption expenditure by households accelerated from 4.8 percent in the first quarter of 2009 to 5.8 percent in the second quarter," said the Reserve Bank in its September quarterly bulletin.

The central bank said that though declines were registered in all spending components it was more pronounced in household expenditure on durable goods.

It said that real expenditure on durable goods declined further at an annualized 18.8 percent in the second quarter of the year. This was in comparison to the rate of decline of 15.2 percent that was recorded in the first quarter.

South Africans spent less on goods such as cars, medical equipment, furniture and household appliances.

"Vehicle sales continued to be constrained by low consumer confidence, and the fact that households were more averse to debt and lenders more averse to risk. Alongside a decline in outlays on residential buildings, expenditure on furniture and household appliances contracted further," said the bank.

Spending on semi-durable goods contracted at an annualized rate of 9.7 percent in the second quarter of the year compared to the 7.9 percent recorded in the first quarter of 2009. The decline mostly lay in outlays on car parts and accessories.

Non-durable goods declined at a 3.4 percent pace as opposed to the 12.2 percent in the first quarter.

"Decreased expenditure on non-durable goods was noticeable in all the subcategories of non-durable goods, with the exception of petroleum products. On a year-on-year basis the price of fuel declined by more than 20 percent in the second quarter of 2009, giving impetus to households' increased expenditure on fuel," said SARB.

Growth in the real final consumption expenditure by households on services moved from the annual growth rate of 6.5 percent in the first quarter to a 2.7 percent contraction in the second quarter of the year.

At the same time, the bank said that the real disposable income of households contracted for the fourth consecutive quarter.

"Following negative growth of 4.5 percent in the first quarter of 2009, real household disposable income declined at an annualised rate of 5.7 percent in the second quarter," it said.
The bank attributed the contraction to layoffs in specific industries.

"The ratio of household debt to disposable income inched marginally lower from 76.8 percent registered in the first quarter to 76.3 percent in the second quarter of 2009.

Having increased at an annualised rate of 5.8 percent in the first quarter of 2009, growth in real final consumption expenditure by general government decelerated to a rate of 0.2 percent in the second quarter.

The slower growth in real government expenditure reflected lower spending on the defense procurement programme and lower real spending on compensation of employees," said the central bank.

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