Real retail sales growth perks up slightly

After having slowed significantly through 2012, real retail sales growth has perked up slightly in the 1st quarter of 2013, but is still expected to hover between 2-3% through the year

Real Retail sales growth in March 2013 slowed to 2.8% year-on-year, from 3.8% in February 2013. This was expected, with a significant surge in February believed to be unsustainable in a currently mediocre economic environment.

Monthly data can be volatile, and for this reason FNB prefers to focus on the 3-month moving average to analyse the trend. For the 3 months up to and including March, the real year-on-year growth rate in retail sales was 3%. This implies a slight 1st quarter improvement on the final quarter of 2012 which recorded only 2.4%.

To get a longer term perspective, the March level of real retail sales brings the cumulative growth since the pre-recession high of April 2008 to 14.4%, coming after a 2008/9 dip in sales. While representing a fairly good recovery, this period is still a far cry from the 60.6% growth rate from January 2002 to April 2008.

The mild early-2013 improvement in real retail sales growth could possibly be explained by an estimated rise in real economic growth, after widespread strike action in the 2nd half of 2012 slowed economy-wide production to “abnormal lows”. In addition, a slight slowing in retail price inflation may also have contributed slightly to improved 1st quarter real retail sales growth.

1st Quarter Improvement Not Believed To Be The Start Of A Sustainable Upward Trend  […read more .. download FNB’s report here…]

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