While we focus on women in South Africa during the month of August, and honour our constitution for declaring 9 August a public holiday, retailers continue to look closely at the overall economic status of women, says Eben Esterhuizen, general manager, OnShelf Pharma.
It says that women are more likely than men to be involved in unpaid work and of the informal sector (which accounts for 17.4% of total South African employment) – 47.6% are women compared to 30.6% of men. Clearly, times are tough.
South Africa’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) was worth $349.42-billion USD in 2017 (substantially up from $295.76-billion USD in 2016) and consumer spending in South Africa increased to R1 936 072-million in the first quarter of 2018 from R1 928 878-million in the fourth quarter of 2017.
But, employment growth slowed in the first quarter of 2018, with most of the limited job creation happening in the informal sector.
On average, a South African household will generally consist of three to four people and have an income of R138 268 per year, with an annual expenditure of R103 293.
Male-headed households have a higher average annual income than their female counterparts – R165 853 and R98 911 respectively – and therefore, have greater spending power than female-headed households.
Other statistics to bear in mind are that South Africans spent R31 900 per second in retail stores in 2017 and, of our population of over 57 million, just under 31 million people are currently using the Internet.
Women earn less but pay more
In a recent survey done by Sanlam, some interesting findings emerged with regards to women’s regular spend. The stats aren’t conclusive, but indicative.
As Danelle van Heerde, Head of Advice Processes at Sanlam Personal Finance, says: “To drastically oversimplify the situation, women are generally earning less and paying more.”
In the survey, 98% of women say they spend more than R100 on monthly toiletries and only 23% of men do. Some of the items listed are:
- Basic toiletries
- Grooming products
- Medical screenings.
Of the 500 women and 500 men surveyed, additional findings include:
- Women spend over R1 500 a year on medical screening, versus only 1.2% of men.
- The majority of men, at 56.4%, spent nothing on contraceptives.
- 51.2% of women purchased contraceptives monthly, with 30% of them spending more than R100.
The suggestion by Sanlam was that these discrepancies between spend came down to ‘pink tax’, which is gaining traction through the #Axethepinktax movement.
According to Gareth Paterson, Nielsen Retail Vertical Lead, South Africa has added 100 000 new traditional trade (for example, Spaza) and modern trade (hypermarkets and supermarkets) stores to its retail world in the last two decades.
Nielsen describes the growth of the Spaza shop as ‘exceptional’, with an increase from 45% to 53% of South African modern trade shoppers (2015 versus 2016) who now also utilise Spazas. Since women are the majority of people occupying the informal sector, it would add up that they are the ones predominantly shopping at the Spaza shops.
Nielsen also reports that by 2025, the South African population will have increased by 6% (approximately three million people) with notable workforce changes because more than 4.3 million women will have entered the job market by then.
With this in mind, retailers need to be prioritising product, price and ease of purchase for women who will be even more prominent when making purchasing decisions in the future.
As retailers, it would be prudent for us to get to know the different types of women consumers better. From the estimated 11.5 million people who are part of a stokvel to the other end of the spectrum, the woman heading towards a totally online shopping lifestyle and those in between.
One thing we do know for sure is the future of South Africa is young and female, and that’s an exciting prospect for the local FMCG space.