Retail Sales We’re saved! No, doomed! No, saved etc.
You may have been gratified to read, if you did, that retail sales were up 3.5% for the month of December, despite the dire predictions of the economists that they would be closer to 2.7%. But don’t get too excited: they were up 4.4% in November, and as the interest rate increase bites, are likely to still head further south. And growth for the entire year was just 2.8%, down from 4.6% in 2012. This may be attributed to a range of factors: high consumer indebtedness after the unsecured lending frenzy, the resulting squeeze on easy credit, higher fuel prices, the weaker rand, spiraling food costs and the worst level of consumer confidence in about 11 years, for starters. And of course, high unemployment – although the marginally good news there is that this number dropped in the fourth quarter of 2013, from 24.5% of the population to 24.1%, or 4.83million people.
Comment: On the bright side, while our current position can best be characterised as stagnant, we are not in an actual recession.