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How South Africans are using grocery stokvels to thrive in tough times

| Supplier news

By: Retail Brief Africa

It’s no secret that South Africans across the country are struggling with rising food prices stemming from global conflicts and the growing influence that climate change is having on input costs associated with food production and distribution. 

There is also rising fuel costs, interest rate hikes, and other economic pressures to contend with. 

Add load-shedding to this and it’s clear that the food industry is faced with mounting challenges that need to be resolved if South Africa’s food security is to be stabilised. But where does this leave the consumer who is faced with the ever-increasing cost of living? 

“South Africans, ever resilient, are turning to the age-old concept of Ubuntu,” says Mpudi Maubane, National PR, Communications & Sponsorships Manager at The SPAR Group. 

“Ubuntu is rooted in the belief that we are all interconnected, and we can achieve great things when we support one another. The concept is finding new life in the growing number of grocery stokvels and community-based savings clubs shopping in SPAR stores.”

A stokvel is a credit union where members contribute regular amounts toward a common goal. Stokvels, deeply ingrained in South African culture, have their origins in livestock purchases and have evolved to support various financial needs like weddings and funerals. 

Today, stokvels serve as a means for communities to pool resources, fostering unity and mutual assistance while offering savings for specific purposes – a valuable approach in a society that has increasingly less money to spend on food. 

Like community-based savings clubs, stokvels offer financial support during tough times.

“Over the last few years, we’ve seen hundreds of shoppers coming into SPAR stores as part of grocery stokvels, whereby they have pooled funds along with friends, family and neighbours to buy bulk groceries, mainly essentials. This happens most typically between November and mid-December”, says Maubane. 

“In the face of widespread financial constraints, grocery stokvels provide a practical lifeline. Not only do they enable members to stretch their budgets, ensuring a degree of financial and food security for their families; they offer a good starting point for consumers to learn to maintain control over their limited finances, creating healthier long-term spending habits.” 

By joining a grocery stokvel, members can benefit from: 

  • Bulk buying: Bulk grocery deals on items that have a longer shelf life like rice, maize, canned goods, and other pantry staples, which can significantly reduce your monthly grocery expenses. Bulk buying other essential items like detergents, toiletries and back-to-school supplies makes good sense too. 
  • Budget control: Stokvels help participants stick to a budget by planning their purchases. This prevents overspending and ensures that money is allocated efficiently. 
  • Financial security: In times of emergency or unexpected expenses, stokvel members can rely on their savings to cover essential purchases without resorting to high-interest loans or credit cards. The power of Black Friday and grocery stokvels Black Friday is the perfect time to harness the power of grocery stokvels. 

Many retailers offer substantial discounts on a wide range of products, including groceries. By coordinating stokvel purchases with Black Friday deals, consumers can maximise their savings even further. 

To make the most of Black Friday: 

  • Plan ahead: Black Friday deals in South Africa often span more than just one day, but not always, so it will be key to research all available deals and create a shopping list with stokvel members to ensure that the best discounts aren’t missed. 
  • Bulk buying: Take advantage of bulk grocery deals on Black Friday to stock up on essentials that your stokvel needs. This can lead to significant long-term savings. 
  • Stay safe: Remember to shop responsibly, whether in-store or online, and adhere to budgets. Avoid impulsive purchases that can strain the pooled finances. 
  • Don’t give up: If deals are missed, South Africans can still tap into the power of bulk buying during month-end and mid-month sales and promotions that are offered regularly. How to get started with your stokvel 
  • Choose the purpose: Decide what range of grocery items you want to save for. You might want to exclude perishables, luxury items or alcohol for example. The key to running a successful stokvel is to establish clear goals and rules upfront. 
  • Gather your group: Assemble a group of like-minded individuals who will agree to and be committed to the stokvel’s objectives. 
  • Set rules and contributions: Define the rules of your stokvel, including what the regular contributions from each member will be, and on a meeting schedule to review finances and make purchases. 
  • Trust and transparency: Build trust within your stokvel by maintaining transparency and clear communication. Honesty and open discussions are key to a successful group.

“Grocery stokvels and community-based savings clubs are an economical way to shop for necessities and we anticipate that these emerging trends will continue to shape the way consumers shop in the future”, continues Maubane. 

Maubane concludes: “As we prepare for this year’s Black Friday, The SPAR Group’s remains committed to offering the very best deals across all member stores. 

“Beyond this, our SPAR house brand products offer customers a way to buy smartly and get more for less across various ranges and categories all year-round, while our SPAR Rewards card provides access to monthly deals and promotions across a range of products to help our customers with continued cost-savings.”

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