Retail sales, it will not surprise you to learn, grew by a sluggish 1.8% year-on-year in April, where economists were predicting 1.6%, and where March’s number has been a yet more dismal 0.8%. Growth was also 1.6% for the quarter – the slowest since the onset of the global financial crisis. Household circumstance, consumer confidence, high debt levels, blah, blah, blah. This familiar litany is to be found almost every day in our nation’s fine newspapers, yet there seems no sense of urgency in business or in government to do anything other than bemoan the whole sorry shooting match and to click and tut and shake heads. In the meantime, we are told, the South African punter is now behaving like we’re in a recession, spending less on food than a year ago and failing to invest in durables, according to the Reserve Bank.
Comment: And when consumers “behave” like we’re in a recession, in a consumer-led economy like ours, that is exactly where we will soon be.