While retail sales are expected to remain firm in the coming months, consumers will be more subdued than they were in the second half of 2017, when exceptionally strong spending was recorded, analysts said on Thursday. As consumers recover from Black Friday sales in November and festive season spending in December, retail trade sales increased by a lower-than-expected 3.2% year on year in January 2017 (R78bn). This followed a 5.1% rise in December (R117.5bn) and a significant 7.9% year-on-year increase in November 2017 (R94.4bn). “The data would suggest that after embarking on a spending spree in November and early December 2017, the consumer ran out of steam in the beginning of the year,” said Stanlib chief economist Kevin Lings. Weighing against the consumer in 2018 will also be the recent tax hikes, particularly the increase in the VAT rate from 14% to 15% which will come into play on April 1, he said. The 52c/litre added to the fuel price will also hold back a more robust expans...

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