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Here’s how much the average price for a household food basket has increased in South Africa

| Economic factors

The Pietermaritzburg Economic Justice and Dignity Group has published new data showing the price changes for essential goods during the coronavirus lockdown in South Africa.

The group collected food prices in Pietermaritzburg supermarkets which target the low-income market.

The group found that the monthly cost of the household food basket increased by R15.31 (0,4%) to R3,486.23 in June 2020 from May 2020.

The year-on-year cost of the household food basket increased by R420.94 (13,7%) from R3,065.28 in June 2019 to R3,486.23 in June 2020.

The below table shows the change in prices across the 38 different products in more detail.

The most notable monthly increases were seen in spinach (11%), boerewors (10%) and margarine (8%).

The biggest annual increases were seen in onions (66%), chicken feet (56%), and boerewors (54%).

The tally of the cost of some typical monthly household expenses which households living on low incomes reasonably expect to cover is R8,015.39 in June 2020, said the Pietermaritzburg Economic Justice and Dignity Group.

“It is clear that on low wages and low grants, these expense costs are well beyond the affordability capacity of most households living on low incomes. Households cut back on food (one of the few expenses we have some level of control over) and take on debt to cover expense shortfalls.”

These expenses are outlined in more detail below.

Job losses 

The report from Pietermaritzburg Economic Justice and Dignity Group comes on the same day that South Africa reported a 17-year high unemployment rate, even before the full impact was felt of a nationwide lockdown in response to the coronavirus pandemic .

Stats SA published its latest Quarterly Labour Force Survey for the three months to March 2020, showing that the official unemployment rate increased by 1.0 percentage point to 30.1% in the first quarter of 2020 compared to the fourth quarter of 2019.

The number of employed persons decreased by 38,000 to 16.4 million and the number of unemployed persons increased by 344,000 to 7.1 million in Q1: 2020 compared to Q4: 2019, resulting in an increase of 306,000 in the labour force.

The largest employment decreases were observed in the formal sector (50,000), followed by the agricultural sector with 21,000 in Q1: 2020.

On the other hand, employment in the informal sector and private households increased by 3,000 and 30,000 respectively.


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