Retail sales growth continued to slow in August, reaching 1.1% year on year, down from 2% in the previous month.

The figures, released by Stats SA on Wednesday came in below market expectations of 1.7% according to economists surveyed by Bloomberg, and though it remains in positive territory, this is the lowest reading this year since March.

On a month-on-month basis, seasonally adjusted figures decreased 0.9% in August compared to July, according to the agency.

Retail Futurist Doug Stephens spoke to Business Day TV about the trends observed in the retail sector and initiatives aimed at 're-engineering' the industry.

In the three months ended August, seasonally adjusted sales increased 0.7% compared with the previous three months.  The main contributors to the annual increase were “other” retailers, which includes online retailers, general dealers and retailers in household furniture, appliances and equipment.  

The pace of retail growth, which was below expectations, follows disappointing industrial data released last week — notably mining and manufacturing. Some economists believe that could mean the possibility of another contraction of the SA economy in the third quarter of the year.

At the same time the global outlook is muted, with the International Monetary Fund downgrading its expectations for world growth to the lowest levels since the global financial crisis a decade ago.