Deloitte has published its latest State of the Consumer tracker, which measures consumer sentiment and spending patterns across 18 countries, including South Africa.
The tracker shows that the last year of lockdown has notably impacted spending patterns, with the majority of local consumers planning to cut spending on more discretionary items over the coming month.
“Consumers are being hit by twin concerns – health and livelihoods. Navigating these concerns is leading to a profound shift in consumer behaviour, with South Africans choosing to spend more time at home and exercising caution around big-ticket items and discretionary purchases,” said Rodger George, Africa Consumer Consulting leader at Deloitte.
Deloitte said that financial pressures may also limit consumers’ ability to engage in previous activities. Some 41% of consumers do not have sufficient income to sustain their expenses.
When looking at the items that South Africans plan to spend more on over the next four weeks, the data shows that groceries are at the top of the list (33%).
In addition household goods (20%), internet and mobile data (19%), utilities and medicine (both 18%) remain clear priorities.
At the other end of the scale, South Africans indicate that they plan to cut down on:
- Travel expenses (-49%)
- Furnishings (-46%)
- Alcohol (-43%)
- Restaurants/takeout (-40%)
- Electronics (-30%)
Deloitte said that consumers are responding to these twin concerns around health and income by choosing to do more at home, and this trend is likely to continue post-pandemic.
“Behaviours include cooking, buying fresh food, streaming entertainment, shopping online and home improvement projects.
“By contrast, activities such as eating at a restaurant, going to the gym, staying at a hotel and taking a flight are seen as higher risk, and even post-pandemic these activities will continue to be less popular than before.”
More details around South Africa’s vaccine rollout would also help to ease anxiety, Deloitte said.
The survey shows that 24% of respondents are unsure when they will be vaccinated, 19% say they will refuse to be vaccinated, and 16% expect that they will only be vaccinated at the end of the year.
Over a third expect to be vaccinated in the next six months, despite almost 80% expressing concern around health.