(Reuters) - Consumer confidence in South Africa dipped further in the first quarter of 2019, suggesting that most consumers are neither optimistic nor pessimistic about the outlook for the country’s economy, a survey showed on Wednesday.
The consumer confidence index, sponsored by First National Bank (FNB) and compiled by the Bureau for Economic Research, fell to +2 in the first quarter from +7 in the final quarter of 2018.
“The shock implementation of stage 4 load-shedding by Eskom during February and March no doubt had a very detrimental impact on the South African economy and it is therefore not surprising that consumers are becoming especially concerned about our economic prospects,” FNB Chief Economist Mamello Matikinca-Ngwenya said.
The latest dip in consumer confidence shows that consumers do not expect the country’s economic prospects to improve over the next 12 months as they did throughout 2018, according to the report.
Other factors that may have contributed to the deterioration in consumer confidence include prolonged labour strikes, a fall in the rand exchange rate, sharp fuel price hikes and further increases in personal income taxes announced in the February national budget, Matikinca-Ngwenya said.
South African retail sales were sluggish for a second straight month with 1.1 percent rise year-on-year in February versus 1.2 percent growth in the previous month, official data showed last week.
President Cyril Ramaphosa, who is trying to revive voter confidence in the governing African National Congress (ANC) party, has staked his reputation on reviving Africa’s most industrialised economy.
Reporting by Samantha Machado in Bengaluru; editing by Gopakumar Warrier