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By Vukosi Maluleke

Digital Journalist

Shopping trends to watch in 2024

SA consumers' spending habits have changed.

January may have been a slow start for many businesses, but if consumer trends prevail then there may be significant changes ahead.

Based on the significant dip in South Africa’s consumer confidence in the third quarter of 2023 – and consecutive quarterly decreases in household final consumption expenditure (HFCE), spending habits are clearly evolving.

“With South Africans feeling more financially stressed this past year, the way we shop has changed,” said Laurian Venter, Sales director at daily deals site One Day Only.

Venter unpacked four trends to watch out for in SA consumer shopping habits.

ALSO READ: ‘Traffic has been slow’: January has been quiet for most businesses

Set on saving

Citing PWC’s 2023 Global Consumer Insights Survey, Venter said consumers are planning to reduce spending across all retail categories.

Meanwhile, Stats SA’s 2023 third quarter Gross Domestic Product (GDP) report indicated an uptick in the outlay on food, along with a decline in payments for furnishings, alcohol and tobacco.

However, Venter noted that South Africans’ spending habits haven’t changed much when it comes to purchasing non-alcoholic beverages, clothing and footwear.

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Budget-friendly payments

Buy Now, Pay Later (BNPL) payment options are growing popularity among consumers.

BPNL methods allow shoppers to instantly purchase products and pay for them in interest-free instalments over a specified period.

“Although the advantage for consumers is obvious, retailers also benefit from increasing the affordability of their goods, with more sales, fewer carts, and repeat purchases following positive experiences using the BPNL option,” said Venter.

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Growing appetite for Apps

According to the 2024 South Africa Mobile App Market Statistics, retail shopping Apps are among the 25 most downloaded, on both Apple Store and Google Pay.

“The convenience of being able to shop anywhere and at anytime has added to the appeal of Apps for frugal consumers wanting to save petrol and cut down on shopping trip,” Venter said.

Thanks to technology, shoppers can now make pre-purchase decisions at their fingertips, eliminating the need for window shopping.

PWC’s sixth Global Consumer Insights Survey revealed that 56% of shoppers use Apps to conduct pre-purchase research, as well as compare special deals and prices among retailers.

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No more one-size fits all

“South African shoppers are sick and tired of being treated like they’re just a number,” Venter said.

Retailers might have to sweat a little more to create tailored shopping experiences to attract and retain customers.

“In 2024, personalised interactions will become less of a luxury and more of a standard with the emergence of increasingly sophisticated technologies and AI systems capable of collecting and analysing extensive customer data,” said Venter.

“A tailored approach to discounts and contents has been proven to heighten purchasing temptation amongst consumers,” she concluded.

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