South Africa Retail Sales Growth Rebounds to Nine-Month High

South African retail-sales growth accelerated to a nine-month high of 6.2 percent in May, as consumers bought more clothing, shoes and textiles, the statistics office said.

The figure compared with a revised 2 percent in April, Pretoria-based Statistics South Africa said on its website today. The median estimate in a Bloomberg survey of 10 economists was for expansion of 2.4 percent. Sales rose 2.2 percent in the month.

“We saw the same spike in May last year,” Merina Willemse, an economist at Efficient Group, a Pretoria-based advisory company, said in a phone interview. “There could be a little bit of seasonality coming into play. If you take the cumulative average for the year, we are still growing slower than last year. Consumers are still not out of the woods.”

South Africa’s central bank will tomorrow keep its benchmark lending rate at 5 percent, the lowest level in more than 30 years, according to all 18 economists surveyed by Bloomberg. The bank is caught between the threat of a weak rand driving up inflation and poor economic growth. The economy grew at its slowest pace since a 2009 recession in the first quarter.

Sales of clothing, footwear, textiles and leather goods rose an annual 13 percent, while sales at general dealers advanced 5.9 percent the statistics office said.

The rand traded at 9.9064 per dollar at 1:42 p.m. in Johannesburg, little changed from before the release of the data.