South Africans attended Valentine’s Day…


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South Africans attended Valentine's Day...

South Africans attended Valentine’s Day…

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Love has been spreading throughout South Africa this summer. According to FNB, South Africans splurge on Valentine’s Day-related items like drunken sailors.

“…Restaurants, spas and movie theaters experienced significant growth in the weeks leading up to and during Valentine’s Day as spending on credit, debit and fusion cards increased compared to the same period last year. Compared to last February In comparison, data from FNB customers showed a 45% increase in restaurant spending, a 36% increase in spas and a 228% increase in movie theaters,” the bank said in a statement.

Other sub-sectors also got a Valentine-related boost. Spending by chocolatiers was up 62 percent from last year, while flower sales were up 81 percent, FNB said.

Many factors clearly come into play here, other than romance and the pursuit of significant others.

Easing Covid-19 restrictions is certainly one of them, as well as alleviating fears of an epidemic among a population currently fully vaccinated at nearly 30%. Covid-19 is also starting to show fatigue, and South Africans – like almost everyone else everywhere – just want to get back to normal. The flock to movie theaters is a telltale sign.

One result of all this is pent-up demand, which is now translating into increased retail sales.

The latest figures from Statistics South Africa showed that retail trade rose 3.1% year-on-year in December, picking up the pace after rising 2.7% in November. Full-year growth of 6.4% in 2021 follows the calamity of 2021, when retail trade sales tumbled under the blow of strict lockdowns.

It’s doubtful whether overall retail sales in January and February can match the surge in spending on Valentine’s Day-related items, which are overwhelmingly from the upper-middle income bracket.

But businesses like restaurants, spas and movie theaters have fared well after draconian restrictions put in place to contain the pandemic. They need some Valentine’s cheer. These are labor-intensive industries, so there is rare good news in terms of employment. The next sales metric related to the theme will be Easter (goods like this are already in stores!) and not just chocolate eggs – bottles are expected to fly off shelves this year after a long-running Easter long weekend ban on retail liquor . DM/BM

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