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Follow our blogs to gain insights into contemporary market research and business intelligence trends relevant to consumers and business. The blogs serves as a platform for knowledge generation and sharing for those interested in household and personal wealth, demography and population, economic and business, consumer behavior, neuroscience and youth research. The blog supports life-long learning and collective generation of solutions related to contemporary community-related challenges impacting on South African individuals, society and regulatory environments.

BMR Macroeconomic and Retail Trade Sales Forecast for South Africa 2021

Introduction

The coronavirus pandemic has impacted business and consumer confidence, shifted production and delivery supply chains resulting in a significant disruption but also transformation of the retail trade sales sector in 2020 and possibly for years to come. The relaxation of the national lockdown to level one announced by the President at the end of February 2021 had re-opened some economic opportunities for low-income households, but a significant proportion of consumers will continue to be vulnerable financially under the adjusted level 3 lockdown. Getting back to pre-pandemic output levels will take time. Recovery to the 2019 level of output is only expected in 2023, reflecting sustained headwinds to economic activity, including high long-term investment costs, electricity supply constraints and rising oil prices that have increased the economy’s total import bill, offsetting some income gains from a stronger term of trade.

Key Macroeconomic Forecasts 2021

South Africa economic growth is expected to rebound in 2021, underpinned by a global recovery and a commodity price upswing, which will support the key mining sector and which, combined with the prospect of a second consecutive bumper harvest, a tax-neutral budget and signs of a resumption in investment and construction will strengthen productivity and output. Overall, risks to the domestic growth outlook are assessed to be balanced. Global growth, progress in vaccination, a low cost of capital, and high commodity prices are all supportive of growth. However, new waves of the Covid-19 virus are likely to weigh on economic activity both globally and locally. In addition, ongoing constraints to the domestic supply of energy and uncertainty about vaccine rollout continue to pose downside risks to growth. Taking these aspects into account the BMR probabilistic macroeconomic model, predicts the South African economy to grow by 3.0% and for 2021 to be a more favourable year than 2020 in terms of the key macroeconomic indicators presented in the table 1 below.

Trends in Real Retail Trade Sales Growth 2013-2020

Figure 1 presents the annual growth in real retail trade sales in South Africa confirming that the sales have been registering a declining trend during the last eight years from a high of 2.7% in 2013 to a low of -6.9% in 2020.

Real Retail Trade Sales Forecast 2021

By taking into account the prospects of both the 2021 global, regional and local economies, the impact and progress in the roll out of the Covid-19 vaccination programmes, the BMR estimates formal retail sales to grow by 2.0% in real terms during 2021 with the highest growth projected for retail outlets in household furniture, appliances and equipment (5.3%), followed by pharmaceutical and medical goods, cosmetics and toiletries (3.8%), and general dealers (2.7%) as reflected in figure 2.

Real Household Consumption Expenditure Forecast 2021

Growth in consumption expenditure is normally attributed to two major components, namely, price inflation and an increase in demand.  The BMR forecasts household retail expenditure by product group in constant terms, to increase for most of products.  Overall, durable goods are anticipated to grow the most by (3.8%) while services and non-durables are likely to expand by (2.5%) and (2.3%) respectively and lastly semi-durables are expected to contract by (-0.8%) and services to increase by (2.9%) as depicted in figure 3.

Figure 4 confirms that in terms of retail outlets, the highest expansion in demand by product during 2021 is expected with respect to recreational and entertainment goods (8.8%) followed by household furniture, appliances, and equipment (6.5%) and thirdly computers and related equipment (5.7%).

Conclusion

The 2021 BMR retail sales forecast shows that retail sales are anticipated to increase by 5.8% in nominal terms and by 2.0% in real terms.  This forecast reflects an expansion in sales in terms of volumes for 2021 though from a low base given the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020. The second wave of the pandemic was strong but had minimal direct impacts on the global economy. Countries addressed second waves by implementing better targeted and less economically damaging lockdowns, unlike the tight restrictions implemented during the first wave. In tandem, businesses have, where possible, adapted or shifted to less contact-intensive ways of working, further insulating production activity and many jobs from restrictions on mobility and contact. Similar cautious strategies are being adopted for the emerging third waves.

For any enquiries regarding the research study, please contact Prof PK Kibuuka (Research Director, Bureau of Market Research) at paul.kibuuka@bmr.co.za.

EXPECTED CONSUMER MARKET TRENDS DURING 2021

The Bureau of Market Research (BMR) recently released a research report focusing on expected consumer market trends during 2021. Data for this report was obtained by means of a key informant survey, identified consumer market trends from other recent consumer market reports and Big Data analyses of the South African consumer market. Such data sources revealed inter alia the following expected trends in the South African consumer market during 2021:

  • The economic growth rate during 2021 will be about 3 percent during 2021 which is, however, from a very low base of -7 percent during 2020. However, about half of the key informants surveyed during the survey are of opinion that the economic growth rate during 2021 might even be lower than the 2020 economic growth rate.
  • Although many key informants were unsure as to whether higher economic growth rates will be experienced during 2021 compared to 2020, they were fairly certain that higher levels of unemployment will realize during 2021 compared to 2020.
  • The main reason for the low economic growth and rising unemployment rates during 2020 was Covid-19 and the resulting lockdown. Covid-19 and the resulting lockdown also had a strong impact on consumer behaviour during 2020 in response to a large number of consumers either temporarily lost incomes during 2020 or maybe lost their jobs giving rise to longer term income losses.
  • Covid-19 and the resulting lockdown will have an impact on consumer finances during 2021. It is being expected that Covid-19 and the resulting lockdown will impact the four major categories of consumer finances, namely household income, expenditure, assets and liabilities.
  • Key informants surveyed for this study are generally very pessimistic about the immediate future of consumers during 2021 by indicating their belief that higher consumer confidence will not be returning during 2021.
  • Key informants believe that consumers will be cutting back on their spending during 2021, namely many consumers will be ‘buying down’ while focusing their expenditure on essential goods. The level to which consumers will be spending during 2021 will be determined by a large number of factors including the future trajectory of the Covid-19 virus and possible future stricter lockdowns as well as this year’s trajectory with respect to the economy, business incomes and employment.
  • There is a strong increase in the interest of consumers to buy goods online. It is being expected that consumer interest in online buying will continue to grow during 2021. Key informants not only believe that an increasing number of consumers will be buying online but also believe that consumers will increasingly be moving away from in-store sales to online purchases.
  • Consumers are also becoming increasingly more mobile in conducting their online purchases by using their mobile phones for such purposes. This appears to be part of a worldwide movement with shopping becoming much more mobile in the sense that shopping is being done on mobile phones anywhere at any time.
  • Consumers are increasingly accessing retailers in an omni-channel fashion. The advantage of this is that consumers can choose which shopping channel they prefer thus optimizing customer shopping experiences and here especially the value of a specific retailer/brand in the eyes of a consumer. By creating omni-channel shopping environments retailers enable consumers not only to buy during normal shopping hours but to purchase goods whenever it is convenient for the customer.
  • Key informants believe that that consumers want increasingly higher quality goods and services while being less willing to pay a premium for such higher quality products and services.
  • Key informants believe that during 2021 an increasing number of consumers will be spending money on their homes to ensure good home office environments for working from home purposes.
  • Key informants believe that an increasing number of consumers will be spending more money on digital Internet entertainment than on out-of-home entertainment such as restaurants, bars and theatres.
  • Whereas many businesses expected that people would gradually return to the office during 2021, key informants surveyed for the purpose of this study do not only expect that during 2021 people will continue working from home but they actually expect that an increasing number of people will be working from home.

Whereas the prime focus of the findings above was on expected changes in consumer behaviour and tastes during 2021, key informants were also asked about expected changes in retailer behaviour in response to the changes in consumer behaviour and tastes shown above. It appears from key informant responses that the following changes in retailer behaviour can be expected during 2021:

  • Retailers will increasingly be making use of Big Data (and here especially machine learning) derived insights for marketing and planning purposes.
  • Retailers will increasingly be moving online to sell their wares during 2021.
  • Retailers during 2021 will respond to various market disruptions driven by new technologies. Such rapidly evolving technologies are mostly driven by advancements in information technologies, communications, machine learning and robotics.
  • Retailers will innovate in a variety of ways during 2021. Such retail innovations include inter alia the use of artificial intelligence in market analyses, the use of augmented reality to attract customers, the use of electronic links to direct customers to ecommerce websites, the use of speech recognition in customer analytics, the use of virtual reality in marketing campaigns and the increased use of wearable technology (wearables) informing marketing.
  • Retailers will increasingly be making use of influencer marketing. Influencer marketing is successful at realizing four important marketing outcomes, namely growing brand awareness, enhancing the ability of consumers to use specific products and services, developing brand preferences as well as developing and strengthening product preferences.
  • Retailers will increasingly be making use of peer-to-peer marketing. As the world of digital marketing is evolving and given that there is growing competition for customers among retailers, new types of marketing approaches are being developed making use of digital marketing. Peer-to-peer marketing is premised upon the fact that people generally trust recommendations by other people they know.
  • Peer-to-peer selling will become increasingly prevalent. With the growing number of peer-to-peer sellers advertising on peer-to-peer websites/apps such as inter alia Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, WhatsApp groups, Facebook Marketplace, Bidorbuy, Gumtree, Carfind, Junkmail and OLX.

The findings of this study have a large number of implications for marketers. Such implications were highlighted and discussed in the report together with some strategic pointers as to how retailers can optimize their retail strategies for success.

For any enquiries regarding the research study, please contact Prof CJ van Aardt (Research Director, Bureau of Market Research) at carel.vanaardt@bmr.co.za.

CONSUMER FINANCIAL VULNERABILITY INDEX: Q1 2021

Consumers less financially vulnerable due to improved incomes during Q1 2021

The state of South African consumers’ personal finances continued to improve during the first quarter of 2021 (Q1 2021) on the back of a recovery in the income of especially middle- and higher income groups. Due to the important role income plays in consumer finances, it was the driving force behind the further improvement in the Momentum-Unisa Consumer Financial Vulnerability Index (CFVI) from the low point of 35.4 points registered in Q2 2020. In Q1 2021 the CFVI improved to 49.7 points from 47.5 points in Q4 2020.

Although improving income earning prospects was the main driver behind consumers’ experience of less financial vulnerability, all the sub-indices of the CFVI continued to recover (apart from savings all scores are higher than those recorded in Q4 2019):

  • The income index increased from 47.7 points in Q4 2020 to 50.2 points in Q1 2021.
  • The expenditure index improved from 49.2 points to 52.3 points over the same period.
  • The savings index was up 1.5 points to 48.8 points in Q1 2021.
  • The debt servicing index rose from 45.8 points in Q4 2020 to 47.5 points in Q1 2021.

However, notwithstanding the improvement in the CFVI and its four sub-indices, the majority of consumers are still feeling financially exposed and insecure, meaning that any small adverse event (e.g. pay cuts) can contribute to a large deterioration in the state of their personal finances.

The main reasons behind the changes in the four sub-index scores:

Income vulnerability decreased during Q1 2021. This suggests that more consumers were able to earn or increase their income. Compared to Q4 2020, a larger percentage of key informants were of the opinion that there has been a greater chance for consumers to retain or obtain employment during Q1 2021 as well as noting an improvement in the income earning prospects of consumers.

Lower levels of expenditure vulnerability were recorded for Q1 2021. This sub-component is supported by the recovery in employment. Compared to Q4 2020 a larger portion of key informants were also of the opinion that consumers’ expenditure did not exceed their incomes and therefore more consumers’ spending remained within budget during Q1 2021.

  • Savings vulnerability also decreased in Q1 2021. The continued improvement in savings can be attributed to both the recovery in income and more consumers living within their means. However, key informants indicated that consumers unfortunately did not have greater access to emergency savings in Q1 2021.
  • Consumers were less vulnerable in terms of debt servicing capabilities in Q1 2021. Low interest rates assisted in limiting debt servicing costs. Similar to savings, the recovery in income improved consumers’ ability to repay outstanding debts.

The key informants were asked to indicate which consumers they deem to be most financially vulnerable during the past quarter based on their interactions with consumers and their perceptions of consumer financial behaviours.

Key informants highlighted that financial vulnerability was prevalent in all income groups. However, the majority of the key informants (63.4%) perceived consumers earning less than R5 000 per month as most financially vulnerable.

The key informants also indicated the following financial vulnerabilities in terms of other demographic variables:

  • 3% indicated the youth (those aged below 39 years) to be the most financially vulnerable.
  • Two thirds perceived females to be more financially vulnerable than males.
  • 57% deemed individuals that are single (single, separated/divorced, widowed) to be more financially vulnerable in comparison to those who are married or living with a partner.
  • Individuals that are employed in the public sector were deemed to be the least financially vulnerable by 46.0% of key informants.

Interestingly, the trend witnessed in Q2 2020 – which saw consumers more concerned about their finances than their health (due to Covid-19) – continued during Q1 2021. The majority of those surveyed (30.7%) believe that consumers are more focused on their finances than on staying safe from the Coronavirus, while 26.7% said that consumers still attach a high value to their finances, but they also attach a high value to staying safe.

The Q1 2021 CFVI continued to show an improvement, displaying the adaptability and possible optimism of consumers. However, consumer finances will remain volatile for some time to come following the initial shocks brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdown that started a year ago. Key informants noted that South African consumers are resilient, and some have started to adapt, but to experience a long-lasting recovery in their financial situations, consumers will require external support in the form of job creation and skills development in especially poorer communities.

As part of Momentum’s Science of Success campaign, the Index is one of the reports produced in the partnership between Momentum and Unisa that aims to provide South Africans with information and strategies on how they can accelerate their journey to financial success. The CFVI is compiled from the views of key informants (researchers, bankers, insurers, retailers, government, economists, analysts, etc.) who deal with consumers daily.

Please click HERE to download the full report.

CONSUMER FINANCIAL VULNERABILITY INDEX: Q4 2020

Improvement in consumer financial vulnerability levels, but consumers remain financially very exposed

Some of the financial strain that several consumers had to endure during the initial lockdown periods early in 2020 dissipated during the fourth quarter of 2020 (Q4 2020). This is evident from the Momentum-Unisa Consumer Financial Vulnerability Index (CFVI), which recovered to 47.5 points in Q4 2020 from 43.5 points in Q3 2020. This means that the index improved to a similar level before lockdown. The improvement follows two very difficult quarters during which the index deteriorated to the highest level of financial vulnerability since inception in 2009.

During Q4 2020 the four sub-indices of the CFVI all showed an improvement, but remained rooted in the very exposed category on the index scale:

  • Income vulnerability decreased as the sub-index improved from 44.1 points in Q3 2020 to 47.7 points in Q4 2020. This suggests that more consumers were able to earn or increase their income. The strong improvement since Q2 2020 suggests a recovery in employment.
  • Expenditure vulnerability decreased as the sub-index increased from 45.9 points in Q3 2020 to 49.2 points in Q4 2020. This sub-component is close to the mildly exposed category and was, among others, supported by the recovery in employment.
  • Savings vulnerability also decreased as the sub-index score moved from 43.1 points in Q3 2020 to 47.3 points in Q4 2020. This can be attributed to both the improvement in income and less spending (due to some regulations restricting the full opening of the economy).
  • Low interest rates contributed to consumers being less vulnerable in terms of debt servicing as the index score increased to 45.8 points in Q4 2020 from 40.8 points in Q3 2020.

A review of the average annual scores of the CFVI and its sub-components shows that consumers suffered greatly during 2020. The average annual score indicates that consumer financial vulnerability was at its lowest level since inception of the index, dropping to a low of 43.4 points. The main contributor to the low score was a significant increase in debt servicing vulnerability. This sub-index declined from 48.7 points in 2019 to 40.9 points in 2020, on the brink of the very vulnerable category of the index scale. This means that the inability to service debt made the largest contribution to consumers’ financial vulnerability.

The key informants were asked to provide reasons for the financial difficulty that consumers experienced during Q4 2020. COVID-19 and the impact of lockdown on personal finances and job retention remain core reasons as retrenchments, salary cuts and price increases affected consumers’ ability to work and earn an income.

Key informants also provided insights into worrisome consumer behaviour during Q4 2020, namely that some consumers did not live within their means and did not demonstrate self-control when spending. Another troublesome observation was that consumers are in several ways limited in expanding their incomes. This could be due to the economy’s inability to create sufficient jobs coupled with limited opportunities to start their own businesses due to a struggling economy.

Key informants reported little hope for a quick recovery in consumer finances due to, among other things, COVID-19 and lockdown. This is evident from the following views:

  • 6% of key informants are of the opinion that it will take 18 months or longer for consumer finances to recover from the impact of COVID-19 and lockdown;
  • 8% of key informants noted a decline in consumers’ perceived levels of control over their financial situations (i.e. personal empowerment) during the past few months; and
  • 3% of key informants noted that consumers attach a high value to their finances, but they also attach a high value to staying safe against COVID-19, while 27.5% of key informants believed consumers are more focused on their finances than on staying safe against the virus. The remaining 36.3% believed that consumers were more worried about staying safe against COVID-19 than their finances.

Overall, the Q4 2020 CFVI results show that despite an improvement in the index, consumer finances will remain vulnerable for some time to come as a sustainable economic recovery is expected to take years rather than quarters. Therefore, key informants are of the opinion that consumers need to empower themselves with appropriate skills, financial and otherwise, and adjust their behaviour if they hope to restore their financial situation and stimulate economic recovery.

As part of Momentum’s Science of Success campaign, the Index is one of the reports produced in the partnership between Momentum and Unisa that aims to provide South Africans with information and strategies on how they can accelerate their journey to financial success. The CFVI is compiled from the views of key informants (researchers, bankers, insurers, retailers, government, economists, analysts, etc.) who deal with consumers daily.

Click here > for a copy of the final report.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

MOMENTUM-UNISA HOUSEHOLD FINANCIAL WELLNESS INSIGHTS 2020: See the upside of a world turned upside down

Unisa’s partnership with Momentum to obtain a better understanding and insights of South African household finances has been running for nine years. This year’s Momentum/Unisa Household Financial Wellness Insights report served as the backbone of the 2020 Momentum Science of Success Festival, held in Johannesburg as well as broadcasted via a Facebook Live event on Wednesday 25 November. It seeks to provide South Africans with an in-depth look at the state of their finances in their homes. The report provides information specially designed to inform and empower South African households to achieve financial success and recover from the possible impacts of life before, during Covid-19 and beyond.

Even before the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic in the country, and the implementation of a lockdown period in March, the South African economy was not a positive environment within which companies and households could thrive. Economic growth averaged 0.8% over the past five years instead of the needed 5%, while unemployment continued to increase, instead of declining. With decelerated economic growth and an increase in job losses, more and more South Africans have now become excluded from participating in economic activity.

Although all households have been affected to some extent by the Covid-19 pandemic and resultant lockdown, the research highlights that South Africa’s middle-class households were hit the hardest as both their income and net wealth were severely impacted by factors beyond their control.

The good news is, despite the lockdown and other challenges experienced due to Covid-19, some already recovered – for several reasons – but mostly because they followed a specific recipe necessary to taste financial success. The report shows that those who experienced financial pressure due to a salary reduction dealt with the challenge by reorganising their spending patterns. This involved changing their store of preference, updating their budgets and cutting back on luxuries (financial management), and managing their debts. The adjustments that were placed at the bottom of the list included reviewing medical aid, business closure or changing living arrangements.

To be better prepared for the journey towards financial success, it is important for households to gain a good understanding of the factors that are within their control and those over which they don’t have any control. It is vital for households to know that there are ways to self-guard them against some of these factors. In order to limit the impact of factors beyond our control households should minimise financial dependence on others (including government), spending on luxuries, increase savings (for emergencies and long-term, such as retirement, insure against the uncertain and access credible financial advice.

Regardless of income level or qualifications obtained, the one key ingredient to financial success is for households to take control of their own financial journey by starting with the end in mind – have a financial plan which includes short- and long-term goals and implement the plan, regardless of events that are outside of their control. Planning and then implementing such a plan is key. A clear implementation plan must provide all the activities that must be undertaken and the specific times it must be undertaken to achieve the long-term goals. A solid implementation plan will also help to increase the financial literacy levels of households and guide their emotions during volatile times.

The report reveals the following seven habits of households that can weather a financial storm:

  1.  They map out their journey with measurable goals and a plan to achieve them.
  2.  They maintain their momentum by knowing where every cent goes.
  3.  They cover and protect themselves from rainy days.
  4.  They make the bold but intelligent choice to invest.
  5.  They don’t let speed bumps deter them from achieving their aspirations.
  6.  They broaden their perspective by being financially savvy and streetwise.
  7.  They realise there is more than one path to achieving success.

The research is the result of the collaborative effort by the Bureau of Market Research, College of Accounting Sciences and Momentum.

Click here> to download the detailed report.

CONSUMER FINANCIAL VULNERABILITY INDEX: Q3 2020 Consumer finances under less pressure, but the road to recovery will be tough

The government’s decision to allow more economic activity during the third quarter of 2020 (Q3 2020) relieved some of the financial strain that several consumers had to endure during Q2 2020. This is evident from the Momentum-Unisa Consumer Financial Vulnerability Index (CFVI), which improved to 43.5 points in Q3 2020 from its lowest ever level of 35.4 points in Q2 2020. However, consumers’ financial desperation levels were still very high, given that the CFVI was at its second lowest level since its inception in Q2 2009.

During Q3 2020 the government relaxed the lockdown from level 3 to level 2 midway through the quarter and then to level 1 by the end of the quarter. This contributed to an improvement in the four sub-indices of the CFVI:

  • The income vulnerability sub-index improved most – from 34.6 points in Q2 2020 to 44.1 points in Q3 2020 as more consumers were able to earn an income, or increase their income;
  • Expenditure vulnerability decreased as the sub-index increased from 39.0 points in Q2 2020 to 45.9 points in Q3 2020;
  • Likewise, the savings vulnerability sub-index increased from 36.0 points in Q2 2020 to 43.1 points in Q3 2020;
  • Debt servicing vulnerability also declined as the index score increased to 40.8 points in Q3 2020 from 32.1 points in Q2 2020.

As part of Momentum’s Science of Success campaign, the Index is one of the reports produced in the partnership between Momentum and Unisa that aims to provide South Africans with information and strategies on how they can accelerate their journey to financial success.

The CFVI and its sub-indices are compiled from the views of key informants (researchers, banks, insurers, retailers, government, etc.) that deal with consumers daily. They identified several macro and consumer specific reasons that affected consumer finances during Q3 2020.

The macro reasons include Covid-19 and the lockdown; the resulting job and income losses in Q2 2020; opening of the economy in Q3 2020 and regaining some of the lost jobs; the inability of the economy to regain most of the lost jobs in Q2 2020; and general economic circumstances. However, they noted several consumer behavioural reasons (see figure below) that both contributed to the improvement in consumer financial vulnerability levels, but also explained why financial vulnerability levels remained high during Q3 2020.

For instance, behavioural reasons they noted for the improvement in the Q3 2020 CFVI are that (compared to Q2 2020) more consumers: demonstrated self-control when it comes to spending; lived within their means; expanded their income; did financial planning; used credit responsibly; were empowered to deal with their finances; considered the risks when taking on credit; increased their financial literacy; learned to adapt to changing financial conditions; shopped around before purchasing goods and services; and had more access to financial products.

However, the same reasons shed light on why consumers’ financial vulnerability remained high. For instance, although the 19.8% of key informants that agreed that consumers demonstrated more self-control when it comes to spending is almost twice the 10.1% recorded in Q2 2020, this percentage is very low. For consumer financial vulnerability to decline to sustainable levels, this percentage, and those of the other listed reasons, should be higher than 60%.

Although the key informants noted that a further improvement in the CFVI in Q4 2020 is likely, the outlook for a quick recovery in the state of consumer finances is not good:

  • 64.2% of key informants are of the opinion that it will take 18 months or longer for the state of consumer finances to return to their pre-Covid-19 level;
  • Due to this desperate situation, 32.4% of key informants noted that consumers seem to be more worried about their finances than staying safe against the Coronavirus, whereas only 26.7% believed that consumers were more worried about staying safe against the Coronavirus;
  • 66.0% of key informants also noted a decline in consumers’ perceived levels of control over their financial situations (i.e. personal empowerment).

Overall, the Q3 2020 CFVI results means that although the degree of consumer financial vulnerability subsided in Q3 2020, a quick recovery in consumer finances to pre-Covid-19 levels should not be expected.

To download the complete report click here>

Happiness Index 2012-2019

The findings portrayed in this report concludes the eighth annual Happiness Index Report since the 2012 baseline Happiness Index study by the Bureau of Market Research (Pty) Ltd (BMR) (Joubert & Poalses, 2012).  On demand of industry, the BMR commenced with an annual Happiness Index study in 2012 with the intention of generating research intelligence in support of business decision-making.  From 2012 to 2018 this study was commissioned by the BMR Behavioural and Communication Research Division Projects Committee, constituting corporate syndicate members.  Research involving happiness measures, satisfaction with life measures, meaning of life measures and well-being measures remain topical on a local and global level.  The BMR accordingly decided to continue tracking these measures.

HAPPINESS ANTECEDENTS REVIEW:  2012-2019

A synopsis of the happiness antecedents measured from 2012 to 2019 is presented in the table below. As of 2013 additional construct measurements were introduced to expand the insightful offerings of the Happiness Index.  The range of colours represent the year-to-year trends, with dark green being most favourable followed by the lighter greens, then yellow, orange and lastly red being most negative.  It should be noted that the figures displayed represent overall trends, and any interpretation thereof is general in nature, as significant age cohort and, in some instances, gender differences are evident.  Disaggregated analyses and interpretations are presented and discussed throughout the comprehensive research report.

Upon close examination, it is evident that the number of red and orange identifiers have increased since 2012, depicting increased strain.  It should be noted that for some antecedents a higher score implies less strain and more happiness, whereas other antecedents require a lower score to indicate the same.  The overall state of happiness has consequently changed over the last eight years with the number of respondents expressing positive sentiments declining on almost all of the happiness antecedents.  Ambivalent states have improved considerably during 2019.  However, given the declined positive general mood and increased negative general mood, the ambivalent general mood rating in fact implies that respondents  are reaching a stage where they know exactly how they feel with greater confidence, namely a negatively inclined emotive state compared to previous years, without a sense of ambivalence about it.  The most positive happiness antecedents in 2019 is that of Locus of Control (LoC) and present standing in society, and it is noteworthy that internal LoC tends to increase as other happiness antecedents decrease.  A detailed explication of each respective happiness antecedent is presented in the comprehensive research report.

STATE OF CONSUMER FINANCES DROP TO THEIR MOST VULNERABLE LEVEL EVER

THE INITIAL CONSEQUENCES OF COVID-19 AND SUBSEQUENT LOCKDOWN

The Momentum/Unisa Consumer Financial Vulnerability Index (CFVI) has declined to its lowest level ever, of 35.4 points, during the second quarter of 2020 (Q2 2020). The decline of 11.8 points from 47.2 in Q1 2020 is also the largest ever quarterly decrease measured since the inception of the index in Q2 2009. This reading, which indicates that consumer finances are in a “Very Vulnerable state”, is a direct consequence of Covid-19 and the subsequent lockdown instituted by the South African government.

This severe state of financial vulnerability appeared to have behavioural effects – the results revealed that consumers appear to be more focused on their finances and less on staying safe against the Covid-19 virus. Literature has similarly revealed that financial vulnerability can be associated with social consequences, such as an increase in criminal activity and substance abuse. All four sub-components of the CFVI declined to the Very Vulnerable state, which means that consumers, in general, are so vulnerable that they are unable to cope.

The recovery in consumer finances, following the effects of the pandemic and lockdown, will most likely be slow, an opinion confirmed by 53.6% of key informants that recovery is more likely to take longer than two years.

The main interventions or changes that key informants suggest for consumers to recover financially from this pandemic include:

  • An improvement in the local economy to stimulate job creation.
  • Entrepreneurship and complimentary income streams.
  • Financial discipline and financial literacy.
  • Restructure expenditures to focus on needs.
  • Government support (for businesses and individuals).
  • Repay outstanding debts.
  • Increase savings, despite difficulties in doing so.

To download the complete report click here >

A tribute to the first RASU client

The Research Advisory and Support Unit (RASU) team started to actively consult with postgraduate students during May 2020 and we are proud to tribute this post to our first client, Ms Esther Niemand. After completing her Bachelor’s degree in Physiotherapy at the University of Pretoria during 2015 and completing community service at 1 Military Hospital, she has continued to work in private practice in different sectors. During the past three years she has been working in an acute neurology rehabilitation centre. She completed her Master’s of Science in Physiotherapy degree at the Sefako Makgatho Health Sciences University during 2020. Her research focuses on oncology , which is the first known research in this field for physiotherapy in South Africa.

Ms Niemand was referred to one of our consultants by a colleague and required assistance with inferential analysis of data that she gathered during the course of completing her Master’s degree. Her article titled “Physiotherapy management of chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy in Pretoria, South Africa” has been provisionally accepted to be published in the South African Journal of Physiotherapy and required the additional inferential analysis based on reviewer comments. Our consultant provided assistance with both visual and inferential analysis of the data. Ms Niemand provided the RASU team with a glowing review, which we truly appreciate. She stated that she was very happy with the service provided and indicated that the RASU team is highly recommendable. The RASU team would like to thank Ms Niemand for making use of our services and we wish her great success in her research journey.

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