SACCI Media Release
February 2024 Trade Conditions Survey
Embargo: 11:30 – 13 March 2024
Cautionary Note on Survey:
This is a monthly SACCI survey and does not claim to present overall trade conditions. The survey does not only entertain SACCI members. The results should be interpreted with the necessary circumspection.

2024 starts off with tough trade conditions.

The results from the February 2024 Survey of Trade Conditions by SACCI confirm a rough trade environment that began to deteriorate lately since October 2023. The 28-index point recorded for the TAI

(Trade Activity Index) in January 2024 was the worst level since April 2020 (TAI at 25), i.e. after the
Covid State of Disaster was announced in March 2020. Although there was a minor improvement
between January and February 2024, 69% of respondents in general still experienced February 2024
trade conditions as negative. Seventy-nine percent of the participants viewed the February 2024 trade
conditions as worse than a year ago. Six-month expectations lifted somewhat but only 43% had positive expectations about future conditions. Seasonal factors did not play a significant role in the deterioration of trade conditions.

All elements of trade improved in February 2024 though it was from the historic low base in January 2024. Twenty-six percent of respondents experienced higher sale volumes in January 2024 which
improved to a meagre 34% sighting increased sale volumes in February 2024. New orders also showed a slight improvement in February.

Input cost slowed further with only 56% of respondents recording rising input costs in February. This led to a significant easing in sales price rises as only 38% of respondents recorded sales price increases. This also implies a notable drop in inflationary expectations as both input costs and sales prices might decline further over the next six months. The SA Reserve Bank may possibly consider easing its monetary stance on interest rates.

The real output of the wholesale and retail trade, and hotels and restaurant, sector declined by 1.7% y/y in 2023 after growing by 3.5% y/y in 2022. A number of trade activities are touched by the cumbersome
trade conditions. Logistical problems at harbours and rail transport have limited merchandise global trade especially low-value-high-volume exports and which contributed to the more difficult trade conditions.

Tourist services are still in the recovery phase while new vehicle sales although lower, appear to have
stabilized. With households struggling to make ends meet, retail trade volumes were lower in December
2023 but benefited from Black Friday in November 2023. Lower interest rates could help to stabilize
retail trade activity and enhance household spending. Electricity supply, however, continues to affect
trade conditions – notably the additional cost to provide other sources of energy and stock losses of
perishable goods.

The considerable rough trade conditions have affected employment relatively less. Thus, in January
2024, 34% of respondents were still hiring staff – which increased to 38% in February 2024. The
prospects for additional employment in the trade sector in the next six months remain limited.

Released by the South African Chamber of Commerce and Industry at their offices in Illovo,
Johannesburg. For more information and infographic, see the SACCI website – or contact:
Alan Mukoki SACCI CEO Cell: 082 551 1159
Richad Downing Economist Cell: 082 822 5566

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