The JSE’s general retail index, which includes the likes of Woolworths and Mr Price, has posted its worst rolling three-month period since the end of 2013, as depressed consumer confidence and a brewing US-China trade war ruin projections of a significant uptick in consumer spending. Since higher taxes and the VAT increase took effect at the beginning of April, the JSE’s general retail index has lost 20%, more than twice that of banks, weighed down by a weaker rand and pressure on emerging market equities. The rand has depreciated about 15% over the same period, also under pressure from tightening global monetary policy. Analysts maintain recent disappointing economic data have underscored that consumer activity is not picking up as fast as previously hoped. Although there may be some improvement, the sector is far less rosy than it appeared in January. Since the beginning of 2018 general retailers have lost 13% and food and drug retailers about 19%, compared with the all share’s 5....

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