“It is a now factor of how the market is moving, particularly at the consumer level, with things like debit orders and cheques as well, and some of the utility payments, which we measure, put [together] and then monitor it month on month, quarter on quarter. It’s shown a positive trend,” Brad Gillis, CEO for regulated products at BankservAfrica, told CNBC Africa.
Gillis added that because of the macroeconomic challenges such as strikes and power outages, sustaining the 1.2 per cent positive shift shown in the economy in February might be difficult to do so. This also means that it could be harder for the consumer to be prepared to spend their money.
(READ MORE: Reining in consumer expenses during tough times)
“It is generally a flat environment, as opposed to something that’s going to show huge growth. It just shows though that there might be some resilience in our market, more so than perhaps the media has portrayed over the last few months,” Gillis explained.
According to international financial services company HSBC, South Africa's current account improved to a deficit of 5.1 per cent of GDP, from a revised deficit of 6.4 per cent in the third quarter of 2013, from a previous recording of 6.8 per cent.
(READ MORE: South Africa Q3 current account deficit widens to 6.8% of GDP)
This was better than consensus expectations for a deficit of 5.5 per cent of GDP, and close to the bank’s estimate of 5.0 per cent. It was also the lowest deficit since the second quarter in 2012.
“The decline in the current account deficit was underpinned by the narrowing in the trade deficit as exports expanded and imports contracted. This was closely aligned with the developments in the monthly trade data at the end of last year, and provides further evidence of macroeconomic rebalancing in the economy,” HSBC said in a statement.
BankservAfrica’s index, which also performs a similar survey, is however only based only on the formal economy and does not include the informal economy.
(READ MORE: S.Africa current account deficit narrows as imports drop)
“[The BankservAfrica index] is based on 640 billion rand worth of movement over the last month, which is about 80 million transactions. Last year, we did a 600 billion rand movement in the same period, and it was 77 million transactions,” said Gillis.
“We measure those and then we create an index which ultimately shows movement, and it’s tracked quite closely to GDP over the last 10 years. Because of that, we feel it’s an indicator, it’s not itself an absolute.”