After their unexpected bounce in the month of August, with sales up 3.2%, it's back to reality in September for Retail Trade Sales, which showed growth of only 0.2% year on year for that anxious month. Economists, all of whom retained their jobs, had predicted 2.4%. To put this in perspective, this is literally twelve times the actual figure. Even sports commentators would get fired for such a poor call. The big performers in September were our old nemeses in the textiles, clothing, footwear and leather goods industries with a 5.9% jump in sales. Spikes notwithstanding, the general trend is currently on slowing growth, attributable to a serpent's nest of factors which include slowing income growth, a slowdown in the growth of unsecured credit, no job creation, declining consumer confidence, and a rise in the cost of living, including the cost of petrol, electricity and education. And all of this portends for a slowdown in economic growth, too.
Comment: The inclination of the South African consumer to spend is a shaky foundation on which to build an economy. Fresh thinking is needed. Perhaps this time we should leave the economists out of it.