Africa is falling off the immediate radar of local retailers after the region posted its slowest growth rate in two decades in 2016, and with the outlook for 2017 looking as unpromising, most companies are changing their focus from expansion to improving customer experience. According to the World Bank, growth in the sub-Saharan Africa region slowed to 1.5% in 2016. The bank said the risk outlook weighed heavily to the downside due to heightened policy uncertainty in the US and Europe and continued weakness in commodity prices. Speaking at the EY retail sector overview on Tuesday, Derek Engelbrecht — EY lead consumer products and retail partner — said African expansion was just not something most retailers were speaking of. "Compare this to five years ago, the picture was very different. There was talk of aggressive store rollouts," Engelbrecht said. "The publicly available data from the big 12 retailers’ in SA show that they are putting their money into store refurbishments and int...

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