Trade activity improved in November, with the Trade Activity Index (TAI) increasing to 57 from 52 in October, said the South African Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Sacci).
Despite the TAI being adjusted for seasonal factors, the index was still higher at 53 in November compared to 50 in October.
In its trade conditions survey released on Tuesday, Sacci said the seasonally adjusted TAI was four points higher than in November 2011.
“The improvement in the TAI in the last two months suggests stronger retail activity over the Christmas season,” said Sacci.
After all the sub-components of trade activity, apart from employment, turned positive in October, the progressive trend continued into November with the consequence that employment in the trade environment also improved.
Sacci noted that following labour disruptions in August and September, business-to-business trade recovered in November. The recovery in sales and new orders that started in October remained vibrant in November, while supplier deliveries remained in positive territory at 57.
Sale and input prices did not change meaningfully between October and November 2012. The continued rise in labour costs, higher utility tariffs and a continued weakening of the rand affected input prices, although tight trade conditions kept selling prices from increasing accordingly.
Sale prices are expected to increase by another three index points to 68 and input prices are expected to increase by two points to 75.
Meanwhile, the six-month trade expectations index (TEI) deteriorated to 51 in November from 53 in October 2012 – this being the lowest figure for the TEI since June 2009.
The TEI averages for the first 11 months of 2012 and 2011 were 59, with both years characterised by lower expectations towards year-end.
“The uncertain circumstances in the South African economy and abroad and growing domestic price pressures continued to lower the outlook for trade conditions in the first few months of 2013,” said Sacci.
In November, employment conditions in the trade environment eased and moved into positive territory as temporary seasonal employment opportunities became available in the trade environment. The employment index increased by four points to 51. Employment prospects also improved slightly to 47 from 46 in October 2012. – SAnews.gov.za