Retail sales increased just 0.2% year on year in September, Statistics SA said on Wednesday.

The figure, which remains at its lowest level since March, came off a revised 1% in August. The retail sector has battled in an economy that is struggling to grow, while consumers have contended with increasing job losses and lower income growth. Consumption accounts for about two thirds of GDP.

The 0.2% was below expectations of some economists and analysts, who had pegged the increase to be closer to the 2% mark.

Seasonally adjusted retail trade sales increased 0.5% in September 2019 compared with August 2019. This followed month-on-month changes of -1.1% in August 2019 and 0.2% in July 2019, Stats SA said. In the third quarter of 2019, retail trade was flat compared with the previous quarter.

Textiles, clothing, footwear and leather goods retailers were the largest contributors to the year-on-year increase, growing 3%. This was followed by the “all other retailers” category, which grew 1.3% and pharmaceutical and medical goods, cosmetics and toiletries which grew 0.8%. 

The largest declines were seen in the food, beverages and tobacco in specialised stores sector, as well as general dealers.