SA consumers less pessimistic about household finances, says PwC report

SA consumers are slightly optimistic about household finances and are returning to shopping malls, a new PwC report has found
SA consumers are slightly optimistic about household finances and are returning to shopping malls, a new PwC report has found
Image: Freddy Mavunda

South Africans are returning to shopping malls, the latest PwC report on consumer confidence has revealed.

According to the report released on Monday, the Bureau for Economic Research found that its consumer confidence index (CCI) was “less pessimistic during the third quarter”.

“The survey period (August 11-21) for the latest CCI straddled a key speech by President Cyril Ramaphosa where he announced the country would move to level 2 lockdown ...

“This improved survey respondents’ outlook on household finances and the present time being appropriate for purchasing durable goods like furniture, appliances, sports equipment and toys,” said PwC's Lullu Krugel. “Nonetheless, consumer sentiment remains — understandably — negative.

“The Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) received more than 10 million applications for the Temporary Employer/Employee Relief Scheme (TERS) — highlighting the depth of income loss across the country since the lockdown started late in March,” said Krugel.

“Data from Google shows that by the start of September, workplace activity in SA was still 28% below levels seen at the start of the year.”

Krugel said on a positive note, the outlook for household finances had improved compared to the previous three months.

“The disbursement of TERS payments and (temporarily) increased social grants certainly improved perceptions of household finances.

“Furthermore, with many low-income workers unable to do their jobs during the second quarter due to the lockdown, a much broader relaxing of restrictions in the third quarter allowed many more to return to work.

“As a result, South Africans are returning to shopping malls.

“Google measured retail and recreation activity — at restaurants, cafes, shopping centres, theme parks, museums, libraries and cinemas — at only 12% lower in early September compared to a benchmark period of January 3 to February 6.

“SA shoppers are also benefiting from very low inflation and a three percentage points cut in interest rates since the start of the year,” said Krugel.

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