Retail sales bounce back after December slump

South Africa's retail sales, the main measure of consumer demand, rose by 9,4percent year on year in January, according to data released by Statistics South Africa yesterday.

South Africa's retail sales, the main measure of consumer demand, rose by 9,4percent year on year in January, according to data released by Statistics South Africa yesterday.

That is from 6,7percent growth in December. In the three months to the end of January, retail sales rose by 9,1percent compared with the same period the year before.

"I'm not really surprised because I was expecting a bit of a bounce back after the surprisingly low figure in December," said Citigroup economist Jean-Francois Mercier.

The retail data came out at the same time as official figures showing that the current account deficit widened to 7,8percent of gross domestic product in the fourth quarter of last year.

"Both today's numbers [retail and current account data] create an upside risk for interest rates," Mercier said.

Consumer demand has been the main driver of faster growth in South Africa over the past couple of years, though some analysts have said that it is showing signs of slowing because of higher interest rates. - Reuters

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