Retail trade sales continue slump

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Pretoria - Retail trade sales continued their downward trend in September falling 5.1 percent year-on-year.

"Retail trade sales for September 2009 reflected a decrease of 5.1 percent compared with September 2008," Statistics South Africa (Stats SA) said on Wednesday.

In August retail trade sales fell by a revised 6.5 percent, compared to the same period last year.

Standard Bank economist Danalee van Wyk said the data was weaker than what they had predicted. "We had hoped for a -4 percent."

She said while it was encouraging that the rate of decline in retail prices was slowing, the data could be a precursor of a relatively bleak festive season.

"People are not spending money and consumers are averse to spending on credit," she said.

van Wyk said that overall job losses would start improving from early next year due to lower interest rates and lower inflation.

Nedbank economist Isaac Matshego said: "The underlying trends remain weak and constrained by job losses and high levels of consumer debt among other things. If the trend continues we cannot rule out the possibility of another cut from the Monetary Policy Committee early next year."

"Retailers will not be singing this December," said Matshego.