Recent reports of SA’s 2.5% GDP growth for the 2nd Quarter of 2017 may inspire analysts to describe the economy as ‘exiting the recession’ but does this reflect within the sports and lifestyle trade industry?

The figures for sporting goods equipment imported into South Africa during the first half of 2017 show that the industry was benefitting from a higher demand for international sports and fitness equipment.

According to statistics released by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), the number (volume) of equipment used for general physical exercise, gymnastics, athletics and other sports imported during the first 2 quarters of 2017 increased by 20% compared to the same period in 2016 and increased 0.3% compared the 2015 period.

SportsEquipment imports
Sports equipment import volumes for the period Q1 & Q2 2012 – 2017.

The biggest surge in demand was in the first quarter. Sports imports increased 54% in the Q1 2017 period from Q1 2016 – but in Q2 2017 there was a 6% decrease in equipment imports compared to Q2 2016.

Trade and manufacturing was described as part of the negative influences contributing to the drop in GDP for Q1 2017, according to reports from Statistics SA in June this year. Trade declined 5.9% and manufacturing contracted 3.7% in Q1 this year. Together with declines in other sectors, political and other factors, South Africa officially entered a recession in Q1 2017 for the 1st time since 2008/09, when South Africa had 3 consecutive quarters of negative growth.

Q2 2017’s GDP growth was largely due to the growth in the agricultural, forestry and fishing sector – It contributed 0.7 of a percentage point to overall GDP growth, according to statistics released by Statistics SA. Trade reportedly went up by 0.6% during Q2 this year with a positive growth in manufacturing (1,5%) after three consecutive quarters of decline.

Household final expenditure came to 4.7% for the quarter, with the bulk of spend (26.7%) going towards clothing and footwear, according to Statistics SA.

Footwear imports for the period Q1 & Q2 2012 – 2017.

DTI statistics reveal a 10% increase in footwear imports for the period Jan-Jun 2017 from the previous year and a 4% increase from the same period in 2015.

South Africa’s overall economic growth forecast for this year is 1%, whilst the World Bank is predicting global growth of 2.7% this year.