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More than a third of South Africans ‘living beyond their means’ as common goods prices rise

More than a third of South Africans are living beyond their means and turning to credit to stretch their incomes as prices for common goods continue to rise, a survey has found.

Deloitte’s latest State of the Consumer Tracker, which measured consumer sentiment across 23 countries for October 2021, found that the priorities of South Africans were shifting, with additional emphasis on wellbeing, experiences and greater intentions to save more for the future.

The survey showed that consumers are valuing time more than ever, and saving for the future with an aim to balance experiences and material possessions.

It also found that fewer South Africans feel that they are spending more than the previous period compared to the other markets surveyed, with just 13% feeling they are spending more.

According to the data, South Africans are the fourth most financially anxious consumers of the markets surveyed because of current pressures, yet three in four people are optimistic about their long-term financial situation.

“This is far above the 49% global average, beating out markets like China, Mexico, the US and the UK with its optimism rating.”

Rodger George, Africa consumer industry leader at Deloitte, said consumers were increasingly confident in the safety of various day-to-day activities, though it did not show a rise in their spending priorities.

“The data also shows us that consumers are becoming increasingly concerned about rising prices and, given the context of the new Omicron variant, this puts a grey cloud over South Africans’ pent-up demand, desire to socialise and resume traditional spending habits throughout the festive season,” he said.

The survey found that South Africans remained concerned, as they have been throughout the pandemic, about their savings balance, with 79% of respondents noting this.

The survey found 86% of South Africans are more concerned about inflation in prices for common goods, nearly 20 points above the global average.

The largest concern is around groceries, where 78% of South Africans believe prices are higher compared to last month.

There has also been a jump in South Africans delaying large purchases they would have otherwise made, at 64%, up from 51% last year.

Consumers have also become more comfortable to return to social activities like going to shops, restaurants, flying or staying in a hotel.

“We’ve also seen online purchase intentions moving along with the rise and fall in infection numbers,” George said.

The country’s discretionary spending intentions remained below the global average, reflecting socioeconomic conditions in the country where groceries and housing dominate share of wallet, the data showed.

“South Africans continue to be inherently optimistic about their long-term future, anticipating signs of improvement. That said, we anticipate that retailers are in for a difficult period over this festive season. Retailers should be clear on their value offering and proposition to consumers.

“They should focus on customer experience, product assortment and fulfilment across all channels and also focus on categories that promote experiences such as wellbeing, food and celebrations,” George said.

TimesLIVE

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