More booze, less food last Christmas

Robert Laing

Robert Laing

Last Christmas South Africans spent 33,4percent more on booze than the previous December.

When it came to buying food, however, the central bank's interest rate hike before the festive season did cause us to tighten our belts. Food sales only grew 4,3percent - in a year when food inflation was 13,5percent - indicated that South Africans ate 9,2percent less Christmas lunch than in December 2006.

With alcoholic beverage inflation at 7,5percent last year, we responded to the tougher economic environment by hitting the bottle 26percent harder last festive season. Statistics South Africa's food and beverage data for December released last week also showed that pubs grew three times faster than restaurants during the final quarter of last year.

What Stats SA terms "other catering business" saw their business rocket 33percent during the fourth quarter from the final three months of 2006.

That these are mainly pubs is indicated by the data showing "other catering business" generate more than 70percent of their combined R242million revenue from bar sales.

"Restaurants and coffee shops" in contrast made just 13,5percent of their R1,6billion total sales in December from alcohol.

The income of fast-food outlets was 12percent higher in the fourth quarter of this year than the same period the previous year, against 9,3 percent growth for restaurants and coffee shops.

But after taking food inflation into account, only pubs seem to have enjoyed a better Christmas.