It is no secret, consumers are feeling the pinch. This year, has been an economic challenge of note. Retailers and shopping centres alike have faced obstacles unlike previous years but despite this, many have remained steadfast and continue to weather the storm.
As we approach the end of this tumultuous year, retailers and shopping centres have a few more weeks to salvage some spend from consumers. This will be no easy feat says Taleo Retail Advisory’s head Sash Padayachee. According to Sash, there are many factors that have affected and continues to have an effect on South African Retail. “There are always two sides of the coin, on the one side, I can say that 2017 has been a tough one. We saw closures of stores, the end of an era of a respected brand store and we have seen many local retailers on the brink of closures. On the other side, 2017 has been the most significant in terms of retail as we have seen an influx of international brands-providing a plethora of choices for consumers. We have also seen the tenacity of local retailers and if they can put up with this economic climate, I can adamantly say, that I cannot wait to see what they can offer consumers once the Rand toughens up,” he said.
The last weeks of South African retail will face its fair share of challenges but promises to be exciting as each mall, shopping centre and retailer-both bricks and mortar as well as the ever-growing online, offer something unique. Economists warn that the recent fuel price increase was a significant one and will inevitably have a knock-on effect on consumer spend. In December 2007, petrol was priced at R7.30 per litre with diesel at R6.51, a decade on and the current fuel prices have doubled to R14.96 for petrol per litre and R12.96 for diesel per litre. This will inevitably affect the cost of food and goods which will result in consumers being thriftier with their spend.
According to Sash the post ‘Black Friday’ sale fatigue and spread of wallet could minimise Christmas spend in 2017. “South Africans however have historically relented with a last-minute surge in spending, the ‘strategic wait’ this year will be determined by additional factors including the outcome of the ANC conference which could result in a degree of optimism or hopelessness-both depending on the result and its immediate impact on both the USD-ZAR exchange rate and ultimately consumer sentiment. Furthermore, the heightened expectation of increased discounting and special offers will result in last minute spend and post-Christmas clearance anticipation with international retailers now having an entrenched presence, December 2017 will be a key indicator of retail performance for local brands and will indeed be a report card on the efficacy of strategic and tactical responsiveness to the new competition. Failure to lift their results now will indicate a lacklustre outlook for 2018,” he said.
Sash also added that retailers need to maximise their efforts in order to capitalise on December sales. “Since the lack of quick response to demand of wanted merchandise is often evident, focus on alternatives is required via in-store, staff and digital communication to maximise sales potential. Retailers in fashion should also merchandise all oddments by size to promote ‘easy to find’ as customers often don’t purchase garments simply because they can find the size they want on packed rails. Many retailers are somewhat oblivious to this opportunity to remove pain and get rid of oddments while they have takers in-store. I look forward to seeing the outcomes of the Festive Season spend and I personally look forward to a stronger Rand which will further translate to greener pastures for Local retail,” he said.
Noel Otto, CEO of Power Fashion Factory said that they anticipated December 22nd and 23rd as their busiest for 2017. Power Fashion Factory, a clothing and shoe retailer serving lower income consumers also sells electricity, airtime, cellular handsets and accessories began over 65 years ago in Swaziland and has since expanded to South Africa. “This year has been tough but despite this, we are proud to announce the opening of our 100th store and through the support from our loyal customers, we foresee a 7 per cent increase in store sales over these two days. We have introduced earlier opening times to accommodate those shoppers who rely on public transport to get to our stores. This will be one of our defining points for our December sales,” he stated.
Mark Turner, Brand and Marketing Director for Game, stated after Black Friday the busiest days are anticipated to be the week building up to Christmas and the weekend before Christmas. These days are most likely to echo throughout South African retailers and shopping centres. “Customers will take advantage of extended trading hours and online shopping equally. Game has also launched a new and improved website which now allows customers to shop online. We have planned for Festive Season trading to be better this year,” he said.