SA’s floundering economy has resulted in two of its largest clothing retailers, Mr Price and Woolworths, reporting disappointing growth for the festive season. Their trading updates triggered the biggest single-day drop on the JSE’s general retail index in at least four years when it fell 7.6% on Thursday. Analysts said the level of indebtedness of consumers, wages not keeping up with inflation, and the uncertainty regarding 2019’s general election were the main reasons they produced flat growth for the weeks leading up to Christmas. The numbers coming out of Mr Price — SA retail sales grew 1.1% to R6.2bn in December — were particularly shocking, as it was assumed that by being mostly a cash retailer with a value offering, it was better suited to cope with a difficult economy. That sales figure "was really surprising", said independent investment manager Sean Ashton. As this figure included new stores, it showed Mr Price was "actually going backwards on a same-store basis. This is r...

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