JSE-listed household electrical durables group Amalgamated Appliance Holdings (Amap) reported that this had been the toughest six-month trading environment it had experienced during its 11 years as a listed entity.
The group yesterday said in its report for last December's interim results: "The group experienced its worst six months' trading in brown goods since our listing over 11 years ago, with first-half revenue being 32percent lower than in the prior year."
It explained that the introduction of the National Credit Act, multiple interest rate hikes and increases in the cost of fuel had dampened sales of consumer durables.
Cash-strapped consumers are facing tougher credit-granting conditions because of the stricter regulations in the Act, which came into force in June last year.
They also have to deal with higher petrol and diesel prices, with the latest hike pushing the retail price of a litre of 95 octane unleaded petrol to new highs.
However, this hike was not included in the company's reporting period, but shows that there are tougher times lying ahead for all retailers.
In December, consumers were faced with a further rise in the repo rate to 11percent, which pushed the prime overdraft rate to 14,5percent. All these factors have led to a slowdown in consumer demand.
The group said the "slowdown in the demand for household electrical products combined with the fierce competition for market share and disappointing festive season trading, were all contributing factors to its lower revenue.
"The group's gross margin declined from 22,5percent in the comparative period to 16,0percent in the current," it said.
However, the group is confident that it will return to profitability.