South Africa flag South Africa: Buying and Selling

The distribution network in South Africa

Evolution of the Sector
One of Africa’s largest and most affluent markets, South Africa has a well-developed retail sector, including a number of major domestic players. The emergence of supermarkets and hypermarkets, which sell large quantities of nearly all consumer goods on a self-serve basis, has resulted in major developments in the distribution sector in South Africa; however, traditional grocery retailers are still widespread.

According to the latest Stats SA report, South Africans spent R31 900 per second in retail stores in 2017. The sector recorded a positive growth performance – spending on retail increased by 2.9% compared to the previous year in volume terms, despite tough challenging economic environment. General dealers are responsible for 44% of sales, the second largest contributor was stores specializing in clothing and textiles (18%) and finally stores specializing in food and beverages (9%). The study revealed that over one-third of the 812 104 individuals working in retail were employed in non-specialized stores, although recording the lowest salaries in the sector. According to latest data available by Euromonitor International, the retail market growth in South Africa is mostly drivinen by discounters (expected 4.6% annual growth rate in 2015 - 2020) and supermarkets (3.7% expected). The other formats of stores are still growing, but slower than the previous period 2010 - 2015 : hypermarkets (2.5% expected), traditional grocery retailers (2.4%), grocery retailers (2.9%), and convenience stores (1.8%).

Market share
Although the black middle class with considerable disposable income has expanded in recent years in South Africa, major income disparities persist. The major share of South Africa's consumer market is divided into two parts: a market for those with high spending power (a majority of whites and newly affluent blacks), and a market for those with very limited spending power (the majority of blacks).

The majority of retail sales takes place in shopping centres, groups of small shops, department stores (Stuttafords, Edgars, Woolworths), supermarkets (Checkers, Pick' n Pay) and hypermarkets (Makro). Traditional shops remain active, in particular outside of major cities, but do not represent a big share of the market and are mainly used by poorer segments of the population.

The main retailers in South Africa are Steinhoff International Holdings, Shoprite Holdings, SPAR Group, Pick' n Pay (South African retailer), Woolwoths Holdings (South African retailer).

Retail Sector Organisations
Fuel Retailers' Association
South African Council of Shopping Centres
Consumer Goods Council of South Africa

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Latest Update: June 2022

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