Press Room

South African Consumer Confidence Holds On

Consumer Confidence shows a two point decrease
The economy is South Africans’ number one concern

Johannesburg- February 26, 2019 – South Africa’s latest Consumer Confidence Index (CCI) for the fourth quarter of 2018 shows a two point decrease to 88, presenting a relatively stable, though still negative, quarter on quarter picture for consumer sentiment in South Africa. This is indicated by the latest results of The Conference Board® Global Consumer Confidence Survey, conducted in collaboration with Nielsen.

This is supported by a decrease in the number of South Africans who view their job prospects as excellent or good, which has dropped one point to 33% compared to the previous quarter and a one point drop to 61%, who say the state of their personal finances over the next 12 months will be excellent or good. However, there is slight respite when it comes to spending intentions. With a two point increase, 29% South African consumers feel now is a good or excellent time to purchase what they need or want.

Economic concerns

Unfortunately, in terms of ongoing concerns in the life of the average South African, 88% of South Africans think the country is in a recession, versus 79% in the previous quarter. When it comes to major concerns, the economy is the number one with 28% South African worried about it, followed by job security at 26%, crime at 23% and rising food prices at 20%.

Nielsen South Africa Connect MD Kerith Botha elaborates; “South Africans are clearly feeling the squeeze as they struggle to deal with their day to day financial commitments, while at the same time being highly aware of the bigger economic picture. This has been adversely affected by a series of setbacks, including power generation amongst other issues, which may well explain consumers’ current preoccupation with the state of the economy.” she explains.

In terms of how they’ve adapted to this stark reality, 85% of South Africans say they have changed their spending to save on household expenses. The top action they have taken to save on money is cutting down on takeaway meals (72%), followed by 59% spending less on new clothes and 57% spending less on out of home entertainment.

When it comes to the allocation of their monthly budget in an average month, the highest number (19%) goes towards food and beverages at home and the same number towards housing (rent, mortgage and utilities etc) and 10% on routine transportation (car, gas, communing non vacation). Interestingly, South Africans allocate the same amount of their budget (8%) to education and communication services like mobile phone landline, internet, cable tv etc.

Financial jugglers

Looking at whether South Africans have any spare cash, only 21% say yes, albeit two points up from the previous quarter. In terms of what their spending priorities are once they meet their essential living expenses, the highest number of consumers (42%) put it into savings, followed by 38% paying off debts, credit cards and loans. Twenty five percent of respondents said they would spend it on new clothes, while 22% said they would spend their spare cash on holidays, which may well be due to the year-end festive spirit having induced consumers to splurge a bit.

Elaborating on these results, Botha says; “South Africans are financially constrained and therefore prioritise saving and paying off debt. However, they’re also seeking relief from the mundanities of every-day life by spending on new clothes and going on holiday. A sign that they’re still determined to enjoy life despite the financial challenges they face.”


The Conference Board is a global, independent business membership and research association working in the public interest. Our mission is unique: To provide the world’s leading organizations with the practical knowledge they need to improve their performance and better serve society. Winner of the Consensus Economics 2016 Forecast Accuracy Award (U.S.), The Conference Board is a non-advocacy, not-for-profit entity holding 501 (c) (3) tax-exempt status in the United States.


Nielsen Holdings plc (NYSE: NLSN) is a global measurement and data analytics company that provides the most complete and trusted view available of consumers and markets worldwide. Our approach marries proprietary Nielsen data with other data sources to help clients around the world understand what’s happening now, what’s happening next, and how to best act on this knowledge. For more than 90 years Nielsen has provided data and analytics based on scientific rigor and innovation, continually developing new ways to answer the most important questions facing the media, advertising, retail and fast-moving consumer goods industries. An S&P 500 company, Nielsen has operations in over 100 countries, covering more than 90% of the world’s population. For more information, visit

CONTACT: Jayashree Janardhanan