Picture: SUNDAY TIMES
Picture: SUNDAY TIMES

Consumer confidence waned only slightly in the second quarter from its "Ramaphoria" leap of joy in the first quarter, according to a poll sponsored by First National Bank (FNB).

Stellenbosch University’s Bureau for Economic Research (BER) reported on Tuesday that its second-quarter consumer confidence index came to 22 points.

The replacement of Jacob Zuma by Cyril Ramaphosa as SA’s president in the first quarter saw the consumer confidence index jump to a record high of 26 points following nearly six years of persistent gloom.

"Since negative corrections have typically followed large spikes in the consumer confidence index in the past, we are somewhat surprised that consumer confidence levels remained so high following the unparalleled surge in consumer sentiment during the first quarter of 2018," the bureau said in a media release on Tuesday.

"Furthermore, there were several adverse developments in recent months that had the potential to deflate consumer confidence. Although the elevated consumer confidence level suggests that consumers remain most willing to spend their money, this does not necessarily imply that actual consumer spending remained robust during the second quarter."

Since the start of the survey in 1982, South African consumers reached their lowest ebb of negative 33 points in the second quarter of 1984. The previous record high of 23 points was reached in the first quarter of 2007.

Until Zuma’s ousting, consumer confidence was persistently negative from the middle of 2012, reaching a low of negative 15 points in June 2015, and was negative eight in the fourth quarter of 2017 before its jump to 26 points in the first quarter of 2018.

The bureau concluded its media release with a warning that South African consumers are unlikely to sustain their optimism under prevailing economic conditions.

"Household income levels and access to credit would have had to improve in conjunction with the positive sentiment to see strong household expenditure growth during the second quarter. Although the seeds of an economic recovery were planted with President Ramaphosa’s ‘new dawn’ and pledge to eradicate the scourge of corruption, further investor-friendly reforms are urgently needed to boost economic growth and household income levels to avoid bitter disappointment."

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