Wholesaler sales lift in May after two months of contraction
Wholesalers sold R168.5bn worth of goods in May, double the R84.7bn sold by retailers, Statistics SA says.
After stripping out inflation, wholesalers sold 0.5% more in May than in the same month in 2017. This halted two months of contraction.
Wholesalers suffered a 2.6% annual sales drop in April, which followed a 0.3% drop in March.
For calculating quarterly GDP, Statistics SA combines its various trade categories — including retail, wholesale, motor and accommodation — into one of the 11 components into which GDP is split.
During the first quarter, the trade component of GDP contracted by 0.4% from the fourth quarter of 2017. Mining and manufacturing both contracted 0.8%, and agriculture’s contribution to the country’s economy fell 0.7%.
Overall, GDP suffered a 2.2% decline in the first quarter.
Many of the monthly reports for the various pieces of second-quarter GDP released by Statistics SA so far have been negative, raising the alarm that the country has entered a recession as defined by two consecutive quarters of GDP decline.
A return to growth in May helped the three-month seasonably adjusted figure for wholesale trade come to 1%, indicating it may help lift the second quarter’s GDP.
In current prices, May’s wholesale sales were 5.9% higher than in May 2017.
The fuel industry, which accounts for more than one-fifth of SA’s wholesale industry, grew sales 18.3% to R36bn.
Food producers are the second-biggest category in Statistics SA’s wholesale categories, contributing 15% the total. Wholesale food sales declined 2% to R25.8bn.
But raw produce from farm sales grew 9.5% to R14bn.