In February 2023, retail trade sales in South Africa declined by 0.5% compared to the same period the previous year, according to Statistics South Africa (Stats SA).

To gather this information, Stats SA conducts a monthly survey within the retail trade industry. The survey is based on a sample from Stats SA’s 2022 business sampling frame (BSF), which consists of businesses registered for value-added tax (VAT).

The retail trade sales survey is a crucial source of information used to estimate the GDP and its components, which then informs economic policy decisions. Additionally, the statistics obtained can be used to compare business and industry performance.

Stats SA reported that the decline in retail trade sales was mainly caused by a drop in sales by general dealers, which declined by 1.5% and contributed -0.7 of a percentage point. Retailers in hardware, paint, and glass also contributed to the decrease, declining by 7.7% and contributing -0.6 of a percentage point.

Below is the YoY percentage change in retail trade sales by type of retailer, as reported by Stats SA:

n February 2023, seasonally adjusted retail trade sales in SA decreased by 0.1% compared to January 2023, which had seen a 1.5% MoM increase. Additionally, retail trade sales for the three months up to February 2023 saw a decline of 0.6% when compared to the same period the previous year.

The decrease was predominantly due to a decline in sales by retailers in hardware, paint and glass (contributing -0.5% of a percentage point with a 6.1% drop) and general dealers (contributing -0.3% of a percentage point with a 0.6% drop).

However, retailers in textiles, clothing, footwear and leather goods experienced growth of 3.5% and contributed 0.7 of a percentage point, making them the most significant positive contributors.

Below are the retail trade sales figures for the three months leading up to February 2023 in SA:


Stats SA brings positive news for the retail sector with 1.2% rise in seasonally adjusted sales for three months ending February 2023 compared to the previous three months. The rise was mainly attributed to the retailers in textiles, clothing, footwear and leather goods with 4.0% growth contributing 0.7% and all ‘other’ retailers with 2.8% growth contributing 0.3% to the overall increase.

Check out the latest seasonally adjusted retail trade sales for the past three months below.

Outlook: FNB predicts mild recession for SA in Q1 2023

According to FNB, the SA economy saw a 1.2% increase in the three months leading up to February 2023. However, this data suggests that the country may have slipped into a mild recession in Q1 2023.

The increase in production and operational costs due to load shedding is expected to impact corporate margins, employment, and wage gains.

While non-labour income remains resilient, the overall outlook is largely negative. Weaker corporate earnings prospects are expected to have an impact on dividend payouts.

Additionally, high inflation, debt servicing costs, and low consumer confidence are likely to result in muted household consumption expenditure in the coming months.

Despite this, FNB notes that the credit market remains active and is partially supporting household consumption. However, the bank warns that slower income growth and the accumulation of more expensive lines of credit could lead to an increase in credit defaults, which would further strain household finances.