Effects of July looting evident in depressed retail sales figures: Economist

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Economist at Econometrix Laura Campbell says the effects of the July looting and violence in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng are evident in the latest depressed retail sales figures.

Figures released by Statistics South Africa show that retail sales declined by 11,2 percent in July compared to the previous month.

The largest drops in sales were in household furniture, appliances and equipment as well as hardware, food, beverages and tobacco products.

Government estimated the cost of the social unrest to the country at between R20 billion and R30 billion.

“We saw a sharp decline in retail sales growth in July. Two prevailing forces will have been at play in the sector due to the unrest.  Firstly the looting and destruction of shops have weighed on retail sales, as too will have decreasing consumer confidence. Conversely, the panic buying that set in during and immediately following the unrest should have boosted sales, particularly non-durable goods. But it is the former which had the predominant impact in July in conjunction to Level 4 move to lockdown as the country entered the 3rd wave of COVID-19 infections,” says Campbell.

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