Industrial strikes have also been credited for trade performance in Africa’s second biggest economy.
The South African Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SACCI) added that the seasonally adjusted Trade Activity Index (TAI) improved from a low level of 44 in August 2014 to 48 in September.
The September 2014 level is slightly below the TAI of 50 a year ago.
(READ MORE: SACCI concerned about S.Africa’s economic prospects)
“Uninspiring economic growth of between one per cent and two per cent for 2014, difficulties in recovering from the labour disruptions, households being financial pressured and export volumes being below par, are the contributors to restrained trade conditions,” added the chamber.
“The sales volumes and new orders sub-indices rebounded, and after being six and five points down in August respectively, both indices recovered to 47 in September.”
However, both indices remained in negative territory. Supplies and backlogs on orders both improved, but the inventories index declined by three points to 50 in September.
The tight trade conditions continued to contain price pressures with the sales price index at 55 and the input price index at 68 in September 2014.
Although both price indices increased in September, the levels were below the average of 62 for sales prices and 73 for input prices in the first nine months of 2014.
The chamber said expectations for both sales and input prices correspondingly remained virtually unchanged at 60 and 70.
(READ MORE: SACCI sees muted business outlook for 2014)
The respondents to the SACCI September 2014 Trade Survey remained positive about trade conditions for the coming six months and the seasonally adjusted expectations index recorded a level of 62.
SACCI says employment prospects also saw positive improvement during the same period under review.
“The employment conditions index in the trade environment increased from 45 in August to 47 in September 2014 while prospects for employment improved marginally as the expectations index rose to 53 from 52 in August.”