Total South African retail sales for May 2018 grew by three percent year-on-year excluding the effects of inflation, compared to the 3.1 percent year-on-year growth recorded in May 2017. This is according to the Mastercard SpendingPulse May 2018 report, which provides a macro-economic analysis of retail spending trends in South Africa.

The report shows that inflation in South Africa continued to moderate in May 2018, marking the 17th consecutive month that inflation contributed a declining proportion to overall retail sales growth. Total retail sales growth, including the effects of inflation, grew 5.6 percent year-on-year, meaning that higher prices contributed only 2.6 percentage points to total growth.

The year-on-year increases in total retail spending, both including and excluding the effects of inflation, are the lowest recorded yet in 2018. This still reflects a healthy outcome for the month since it builds on strong performance in May last year, which showed 2017’s highest monthly retail sales growth including inflation and its fourth-highest monthly growth excluding the effects of inflation.

The general dealer sector once again underperformed the rest of the retail market. General dealer sales volumes, excluding the effects of inflation, declined 3.5 percent year-on-year for May 2018. Including the effects of inflation, general dealer sales increased 3.2 percent year-on-year.

Inflation contributed 6.7 percentage points to general dealer sales growth for the month. This compares to the 7 percent inflation contributed to growth in April 2018. Food price inflation is declining, but high unemployment and low wage growth appear to be affecting the general dealer sector of the retail market more severely than others.

Pharmaceutical, medical goods, cosmetics and toiletry sales volume excluding the effects of inflation grew 6 percent year-on-on-year for May 2018 – the highest growth rate in 2018. Inflation contributed 3.6 percentage points to growth in this sector.

Sarah Quinlan, Senior Vice President of Market Insights Mastercard, commented, “The South African consumer is cautiously managing cashflow, diverting some savings from lower food prices to spending on items like cosmetics and toiletries. Though there has been a moderation of inflationary pressures in many economic sectors, a small uptick in oil prices in May, high unemployment and low wage growth continue to restrain spending.”

Quinlan added, “We will continue to track factors like oil prices, private sector credit, impact of currency changes and the global trade situation. If those start to ease, we would expect a rise in retail sales in the future. However, a strengthening US dollar could negatively impact the economy by increasing inflationary pressures, something we will be watching for in the future.”


About Mastercard SpendingPulse

Mastercard SpendingPulse reports on national retail sales and is based on aggregate sales activity in the Mastercard payments network, coupled with survey-based estimates for certain other payment forms, such as cash and cheque. SpendingPulse reports and content, including estimated forecasts of spending trends do not in any way contain, reflect or relate to actual Mastercard operational or financial performance, or specific payment-card-issuer data. SpendingPulse is provided by Mastercard Advisors, the professional services arm of Mastercard.

About Mastercard Advisors

Mastercard Advisors, the professional services arm of Mastercard, provides clients around the world with insights and solutions that drive business impact and ROI. The company uses advanced analyses and deep expertise in the payment field to translate data into market behavior and customized services. With over 80 billion transactions processed annually in 210 countries worldwide, Mastercard Advisors uses aggregated information and a consultative approach to help financial institutions, merchants, media companies, government and organizations of different sizes to boost their businesses. For more information, access

About Mastercard

Mastercard,, is a technology company in the global payments industry. We operate the world’s fastest payments processing network, connecting consumers, financial institutions, merchants, governments and businesses in more than 210 countries and territories. Mastercard products and solutions make everyday commerce activities – such as shopping, traveling, running a business and managing finances – easier, more secure and more efficient for everyone. Follow us on Twitter: @MastercardMEA and @MastercardNews, join the discussion on the Beyond the Transaction Blog and subscribe for the latest news on the MEA Engagement Bureau.

Mastercard Communications Contact

Kershnee Govender, +2783 564 4090,
Birgit Deibele