As Mr P’s comments (Massmart, above) suggest, reports of the demise of the SA punter have been greatly exaggerated. When the retail sales numbers for the month of June came in from the hoary sages at StatsSA, you could have knocked everyone down with a feather or similar object: 8.3% – their highest level of growth since the feeding frenzy of last December. Sales for May, you will recall, were up a similarly astounding 7.1% (revised), after the economists had predicted, meaninglessly, that they were likely to climb just 4.5%. The big contributor to quarterly YOY growth was retailers in textiles, clothing, footwear and leather goods, who grew 9.4% and contributed 2.0 percentage points with general dealers, into which category our own great industry sort of fits, up just 3.8%, or 1.4 percentage points. The consensus among the Dismal Scientists is that retail sales growth is all very well, and is doing its bit to keep our heads above water, but that continued high unemployment and slow job creation will constrain trade in the next few months and put a damper on GDP growth.
Comment: A not unrealistic assumption giving the current global headwinds.