South African Retail Sales Growth Slows to 1.9% in April

South African retail-sales growth eased to 1.9 percent in April as slower economic growth and rising unemployment curbed consumer spending.

Sales compared with a revised 2.7 percent in March, Pretoria-based Statistics South Africa said on its website today. The median estimate in a Bloomberg survey of 13 economists was for expansion of 3.5 percent. Sales fell 0.6 percent from a month earlier.

The unemployment rate climbed to 25.2 percent in the first quarter from 24.9 percent in the previous three months, as the labor force expanded and the retail, finance and construction industries shed jobs. The economy grew at its slowest pace since a 2009 recession in the first quarter.

South Africa’s central bank has held its benchmark lending rate at 5 percent, the lowest level in more than 30 years, since July to shore up consumer spending, growth and employment in Africa’s largest economy. A slump in the value of the rand is threatening to drive up inflation, limiting the scope for further rate cuts, Governor Gill Marcus said in a speech on June 6.

Edcon Holdings Pty Ltd., a retailer owned by Boston-based Bain Capital Partners LLC, and Adcock Ingram Holdings Ltd. (AIP), the South African maker of Panado painkillers and Corenza cold medicine, warned last week that inflation and unemployment in the country will probably weigh on consumer spending.

To contact the reporter on this story: Mike Cohen in Cape Town at mcohen21@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Nasreen Seria at nseria@bloomberg.net

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