#CoronavirusSA: Further clarification on essential goods – 20 April 2020

Our weekly tracking to curate and update our readers on the latest developments in South Africa and Africa around COVID-19 and its impact on the brand and retail value chain.

The South African government clarified lockdown regulations on essential goods and services this past week, extending some to include hardware items and car repairs to ensure basic plumbing and electrical repairs to homes and car repairs for those engaged in essential services, such as delivery companies. Of course, hot, cooked food is now banned with the regulations being updated to reflect this to prevent any ambiguity. Retailing Africa launched its COVID-19 news tracker for the retailing eco-system in South Africa and Africa mid-March; and will be continuing to update our readers with relevant news for our brands and retailers each week of this pandemic.

MONDAY, April 20, 2020

How hot is hot?

The selling of hot, cooked food debate rages on, with some commentators asking how hot is hot? Cooled down or mildly hot? Government clarified it by saying no hot or cooked food may be sold by retailers on Monday. The debate seems superfluous when children are going hungry in some of our poorest areas and the middle class should cook their own chicken to limit trips in store; but then the point has been raised as to how essential workers are being fed, given that they may not always have the time to cook or prepare food. Retailers and manufacturers hold the higher ground here, being at the top of the supply chain and it seems to me that industry lobby groups need to weigh in here and advise Government – as well as increase channels for charities and feeding schemes to reach the poorest of the poor. This pandemic peak has not yet hit South Africa and this Winter will probably be the worst in terms of hardship in our collective living memory. Feeding the most vulnerable must be everyone’s priority for the rest of this year, from business to Government. Civil society, some farmers and many individuals are doing so already. Where is a coordinated industry plan for the rest?

FRIDAY, April 17, 2020

Prohibition remains

The prohibition on the sale and distribution of alcohol remains in South Africa for #LockdownSA Season 2. In a letter from President Cyril Ramaphosa, sent to the Gauteng Liquor Forum which challenged the decision and threatened to go to court, the Prez wrote that liquor sellers should seek economic relief through other programmes offered by government. Of course, that has just made the illegal liquor trade flourish; with even middle-class South Africans swapping Pineapple Beer recipes along with Granny’s Best Banana Bread recipe. I don’t even want to know what they’re growing in their window boxes due to the cigarette ban. We are rather ungovernable as a society at the best of times. Let’s hope all this creativity and innovation during lockdown can be put to good use solving some other more pressing societal issues, like food security.

Trade restrictions were relaxed, however, to allow hardware stores to reopen for tradesmen such as plumbers, electricians, locksmiths and roof repairmen. They will have to show permits to this effect.

TransUnion reveals state of consumer finances

Up to 79% of South African consumers say household income has been negatively impacted by COVID-19. That is almost eight in 10 South Africans. The newly released research from TransUnion found that an additional 7% of South African adults said they expect that their household income will suffer in the future. TransUnion has initiated a survey of adults (18 years old and over) in South Africa and abroad to better understand the financial impact of COVID-19 on consumers. The initial South African survey (commenced week of April 6) of 2,001 adults marked the first in the country in a planned series of ongoing research. Additional details as well as resources for consumers looking to minimise the potential negative impact of the pandemic on their credit, and access to self-serve educational materials can be found on

“Whether it’s their health, financial well-being or changes in day-to-day living, the lives of millions of people in South Africa and abroad have been dramatically changed. In times like these it is important that we all come together to address these challenges for the benefit of consumers, businesses, and the economy as a whole,” said Lee Naik, CEO TransUnion Africa. TransUnion’s research found that some generations, particularly Millennials (those born 1980 to 1994) and Gen X (born 1965 to 1979), were more impacted financially by the COVID-19 pandemic than others. While 89% of consumers who have had their household income impacted by COVID-19 are concerned about paying their bills, this increased to 92% for Millennials and 95% for Gen X. On average, respondents said they will be short about R7,000 soon. When looking at the timing of any expected shortfall, 45% of all impacted consumers say it will be longer than one month, but less than three months, while 23% expect to feel the impact between two to four weeks from now.

The survey also found that one in 10 (10%) of impacted respondents have already lost their job as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Some provinces were impacted more than others, with this figure at 12% for the Western Cape, 11% for the North West and 10% from Kwa-Zulu Natal and Gauteng respectively, with the younger generations more acutely affected by job loss. In response to the financial challenges caused by COVID-19, 29% of South African consumers said they planned to use their savings to pay current bills. A smaller number (22%) said they would borrow money from a friend or family member. Additionally, 27% do not know how they are going to pay their bills or loans and 33% will only pay a partial amount that they can afford.

WEDNESDAY, April 15, 2020

Uber wants to deliver goods for SA retailers

South African businesses can now deliver essential goods using the Uber app as Uber tries out a delivery service for businesses by leveraging its logistics technology and network of drivers to provide retailers and businesses with grocery deliveries. From stores such as supermarkets, grocers and pharmacies, any business that needs to provide a delivery service to customers can easily sign-up and start offering delivery within a matter of days. Businesses can manage multiple orders with one account; track deliveries in real-time; and ensure customer deliveries arrive on time and intact. With over 13 000 registered and professional drivers with the necessary permits to travel during the lockdown, by launching this service, Uber can ensure an income for many of its drivers during the lockdown period.

“Using Uber’s technology and logistics expertise for deliveries not only unlocks new income opportunities for drivers, but importantly allows businesses to continue serving communities safely and reliably across South Africa, at a time when many are unable to leave their homes,” said Alon Lits, general manager of Uber Sub Saharan Africa.

TUESDAY, April 14, 2020

SACCI calls for fast-food outlets to open

To kickstart the economy, the SA Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SACCI), called on Government to open fast-food drive-through outlets, as well as takeaway options. Speaking to Speaking on SABC News and Jacaranda FM, SACCI CEO Alan Mukoki, said the 150 000 fast-food outlet employees contributed almost 20 to 25% of the entire agri-business value chain. “We have to prevent economic collapse. Fast food outlets should go back, but not aggravate the situation. All staff should be tested before they go back to work; they should have all personal protective equipment; transportation should be handled with the highest level of hygiene; customers who come to collect their food must apply social distancing; deliveries should also apply hygiene measures; orders should be ‘call and collect’. We must do whatever is necessary. Let’s focus on those we can get back to work.”



#CoronavirusSA tracker: Business pushes back – 13 April 2020.

#CoronavirusSA tracker: #Standingtogether – 7 April 2020.

#CoronavirusSA tracker: Shoprite & Pick n Pay win week: Spar’s brand fail – 27 March 2020.

#CoronavirusSA tracker: Fear and loathing in SA – 20 March 2020.


*Curated and edited by Retailing Africa Publisher & Editor, Louise Burgers. Keep the industry updated and send your announcements and news to:


Louise Burgers (previously Marsland) is the Publisher and Editor and Co-Founder of She has spent over 20 years writing about the FMCG retailing, marketing, media and advertising industry in South Africa and on the African continent. She has specialised in local and Africa consumer trends and is a passionate Afro-optimist who believes it is Africa’s time to rise again and that the Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) will be a global gamechanger in the next decade.

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