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Goodbye DStv and Woolworths

| International retailers

South Africans under financial pressure due to the Covid–19 pandemic are cutting spending on non-essentials such as restaurants and take-aways, and TV subscriptions.


Jan Vermeulen | Business Tech

Its findings were in line with the Old Mutual Savings & Investment Monitor (OMSIM) released in August which also found that women were cutting down on shopping at premium grocery stores like Woolworths.

The Santam Insurance Barometer showed that the challenging economy, political unrest, the pandemic impact on businesses, cybercrime and climate change are among the top risks highlighted by consumers, intermediaries and corporates polled.

Santam said that some of the most notable trends among South African consumers over the past 18 months were that 50% of consumers reduced the number of kilometres driven each week by an average of 44%, from 162km to 90km per week.

This was likely brought on by the increasing work-from-home trend brought on by the Covid–19 lockdown in South Africa.

On the technology front, 16% of consumers upgraded their computers and connectivity to enable them to work from home. Three in four people reported an increase in their use of technology.

In addition to measuring the concerns of individuals and organisations related to short-term insurance, the survey also asked respondents regarding their spending habits.

Consumer respondents said they targeted the following areas when looking to reduce expenditure, in the following proportions:

  • 59% — restaurant outings, food take-aways when looking to reduce expenditure
  • 45% — travel and petrol, clothing, footwear, and accessories
  • 33% — hobbies, sports and gym expenditure
  • 28% — groceries
  • 23% — TV subscriptions
  • 19% — domestic travel
  • 15% — cellphone contract
  • 10% — repayment of debt
  • 10% — school fees

BusinessTech noted that Santam’s findings were in line with those from the Old Mutual Savings & Investment Monitor (OMSIM) published in August.

In addition to showing that consumers cut back on spending, the OMSIM also showed that South Africans adapted their lifestyles.

The top ways households reduced expenditure was by switching to cheaper supermarket brands, and downgrading DStv and streaming services.

While OMSIM specifically mentions Woolworths in relation to people switching to cheaper supermarket brands, it is interesting to note that Woolworths reported an increase in sales at its grocery stores in its latest financial results.

The following table summarises the results of the OMSIM’s questions regarding how consumers adapter their lifestyles in the past year.

Adapted lifestyle past yearTotal (2021)R8,000–R14,999R15,000–R24,999R25,000–R49,999R50,000+
Switched to a cheaper supermarket brand for most purchases 39% 41% 42% 39% 27%
Stopped or moved to cheaper DSTV option or a cheaper streaming 39% 44% 40% 37% 29%
Cut down on domestic help 36% 33% 35% 40% 35%
Moved to a cheaper cell phone or data option 35% 41% 36% 31% 21%
Given up gym subscription in favour of exercising alone/at home 31% 29% 31% 34% 29%
Put plans for major expenditure on hold 29% 22% 31% 35% 35%
Cashed in investment earlier than planned 18% 16% 18% 22% 15%
Moved from one rented property to cheaper rented property 13% 15% 16% 10% 8%
Sold vehicle and not replaced, or traded down 10% 8% 9% 12% 14%
Taken advantage of low interest rates and bought property 10% 8% 8% 10% 21%
Moved children to less expensive school (base = those with dependent children) 12% 13% 11% 12% 9%
Sold home and downscaled 5% 3% 5% 5% 9%
Left a job to access retirement fund 2% 3% 2% 1% 4%
None of the above 15% 14% 13% 16% 23%

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