Picture: 123RF/LE MOAL OLIVIER
Picture: 123RF/LE MOAL OLIVIER

In this edition of Business Day Spotlight, we talk about the effects of recent unrest in Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal on consumer confidence in SA and the wider economy.

Host Mudiwa Gavaza is joined by George Kershoff, deputy director at the Bureau of Economic Research (BER), to discuss the issues. 

Over the last week, areas in Gauteng and KZN have been ravaged by violent protests, vandalism and looting. The devastation has left questions about whether businesses affected by the unrest will be able to recover or will even want to open their doors, once the dust has really settled on what has been a harrowing week for many.

Given these events, the BER expects consumer confidence to take a hit.

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Started in the 1950s, the BER is a unit of Stellenbosch University’s faculty of economics and management. It is one of the oldest economic research institutes in SA.

The BER is also well known for its consumer confidence index, done in collaboration with FNB.

Kershoff says consumer confidence surveys provide regular assessments of consumer attitudes and expectations and are used to evaluate economic trends and prospects. He says the institute also does a number of different surveys to gauge other metrics such as business confidence, according to global research standards.

This information is used to help track SA’s economic progress and make forecasts.

Mudiwa Gavaza. Picture: DOROTHY KGOSI.
Mudiwa Gavaza. Picture: DOROTHY KGOSI.

Kershoff says they expect the recent looting, unrest and violence seen in KwaZulu-Natal to have a negative effect on consumer confidence. When the country initially went into lockdown in 2020, consumer confidence had taken its biggest hit since the 1985. Though attitudes had improved, somewhat, in the second half of 2020 as restrictions were lifted, the expectation is that the recent tightening up of the lockdown, in response to the third Covid-19 infection wave, and the recent unrest would work to erode that confidence further.

Kershoff highlights the pressure currently faced by consumers, how these factors may develop over time and what it will likely take to improve that sentiment. 

The discussion focuses on the work of the BER; the state of consumer confidence in SA; the effects of the recent unrest on consumers; ways in which the unrest will affect SA’s economic recovery; pressures faced by consumers given the lockdowns and continued uncertainty; and an outlook for the country in the future.

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 Business Day Spotlight is a MultimediaLIVE production.

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