This is according to the South African Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SACCI)’s December Trade Conditions Survey. The seasonally adjusted Trade Activity Index (TAI) for the period lifted marginally to 56 compared to 54 in November while the non-seasonally TAI if four pints above the TAI for December 2013.
“Although trade remains depressed and uneasy about export volumes and low fixed investment spending, import volumes, new vehicle sales and better retail sales volumes compared to earlier in 2014, facilitated positive trade,” said SACCI in a statement.
“Less disrupted trade conditions due to electricity supply in December also contributed to the positive outcome in December. Electricity power constraints have a debilitating consequence for trade conditions as it constrains the supply and outlet chain.”
(READ MORE: SACCI concerned over Eskom's load shedding)
Sales volumes however were slightly lower in December 2014 than in the previous month but were better than in December 2013 while the new orders sub-index improved by six index points on the December 2013 sub-index.
Supplier deliveries also fell due to lower business activity but inventories were left unchanged at 60 index points while backlogs on orders declined.
SACCI said while sales and input price increases were higher as the respective indices increased in December, losses due to power failures and lower output will put pressure on input costs.
“The Trade Expectations Index (TEI) is sensitive to for instance future electricity supply continuity and thus declined from 61 to 56 in December 2014. In October 2014 the TEI stood at 65. “
(READ MORE: SACCI concerned about S.Africa's economic prospects)
Employment conditions in the trade environment improved during the period due to temporary staff being employed in the retail sector.
“Six month prospects for employment remained positive as the expectations index increased to 53 in December 2014,” added SACCI.