Stocktake: Painting the town red

Will there be an easing of some lockdown restrictions as the NCCC meets this week?

This year will go down in history as a year in which our hearts were broken over and over again. The desperate events industry, another Covid casualty, launched a protest campaign last week to #lightSAred, to highlight how the sector is struggling and the amount of jobs lost as South Africa’s lockdown continues. Over 300 iconic landmarks in South Africa were turned red, from hotels to conference centres, stadiums and even tourism landmarks like Table Mountain.

Is it time for a ‘My fellow South African’s speech’? Protests by the hospitality, tourism and eventing sector have increased in share of voice in the past few weeks; as have the formal court challenges by alcohol and tobacco brands and interests, supported by some political parties. Government has also been inundated with various social media campaigns indicating the unhappiness of South Africans with most aspects of #lockdownSA. With the NCCC (national coronavirus command council) meeting Tuesday, 11 August; and in the light of falling infection rates in some provinces, coupled with the fact that hospitals have not been overrun with COVID-19 patients as was predicted during our Winter peak; may see some restrictions eased to save jobs, while keeping mask-wearing and social distancing paramount.

Red alert

Like the restaurant industry in the previous week; last week the events industry highlighted its plight, with a campaign that turned iconic landmarks and key hospitality spots and venues, red with its #lightSAred initiative. The industry is desperate to receive Covid relief funding or an easing of lockdown restrictions to allow it to start opening up. This heartfelt post by Gavin Minter of production and booking agency, Real Wired Music, was shared widely across social media, like many others who worked hard to light up various venues in red to shine the spotlight on their plight: “Tonight I walked around the V&A Waterfront. I felt such sadness walking the empty walkways and venues. Before the curtain came down in March we were booking a few venues around town and booked on average about 25 – 40 gigs a month. Month in and month out, these gigs employed about 120-150 musicians a month and then the rest. The venues have their staff – from the waitron to the chefs and cooks, the cleaners and the bar hop and the barman, the managers and then the extensive technical crew. I won’t even start on the suppliers that supply food, liquor, gas or even utensils! Or the companies that wash tablecloths and fix sh*t in and around “operating” venues and conference halls.

“I won’t even start on the conference side as that nightmare will take years to get back on track. I’m not blaming anyone as I don’t have all the answers. But I am saddened by what this pandemic has done to all of us and extremely angry as to the lack of support we have received from Government or various departments that should be helping us feed our families. You know, tonight while standing in the freezing cold and then rain, trying to make “light” (excuse the pun) of our position, talking to crew and owners from companies I’ve known for years, again I am saddened. Here are the guys in the trenches, braving the elements, rigging, carrying and hauling gear, rolling cables, plotting lights, setting up stages – and all this, just to try and get some acknowledgement and bring about awareness and hopefully get someone to put up their hand to help…”

Lives vs livelihoods

The Restaurant Association of South Africa (RASA) stated that the lockdown measures threaten the livelihoods of 800,000 people employed in the industry. The National Liquor Traders Council (NLTC) says 10 000 taverns have already closed permanently and another 12 500 taverns are barely getting by. Tourism Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane highlighted that South Africa’s tourism sector may have already lost an estimated R54.2 billion due to the lockdown. Tour buses and tour guides are doing slow drives in all provinces to highlight their plight. Tour buses lined up in Pretoria outside the Ministery of Tourism, last week:


According to Lucky Makhubela, legal expert and the founder of Makhubela Attorneys, there could be legal ramifications if things continue as they have, “The COVID-19 regulations have interfered with the right of people to earn a living; the Constitution guarantees the right to participate in any trade of your choice and earn a living. The legal action that can be taken is to challenge the regulations on the basis that the current regulations infringe on the right to earn a living and trade. However, they must demonstrate to the court of law how these regulations have unfairly discriminated against them and how it has interfered with these rights. No right is unlimited, one must show that the regulations amount to an unjust limitation of their rights as enshrined in the Constitution.”

Even though the rationale that the government has provided justifying why they have restricted certain sectors and banned alcohol; the core of the issue is the impact these regulations have on the livelihoods of those most affected. There is a probability that if and when legal action is taken against the state, the courts will rule in favour of the complainants. In order to ensure that the long-term effects of the current lockdown are neutralised, the government will have to strike a balance between saving lives and sustaining livelihoods. Makhubela said that Government needs to ensure that the regulations they come up with are both “reasonable and rational”: “The state should avoid putting forward regulations that appear to be reasonable, but at the end of the day they are irrational. It is about ensuring that if the regulations limit rights, provisions need to be made that allow businesses to operate without compromising those rights.”

R1.4m in prizes for SMMEs

Shoprite has launched its 2020 Hustle competition to assist entrepreneurs realise their dreams of growing their own businesses. SMME’s (Small, Medium and Micro Enterprises) play a critical role in growing South Africa’s economy and creating much needed jobs. This year the competition will award 20 established small business owners with prizes valued at R1.4 million. Each winner will receive R50,000 in cash, and a short course from Get Smarter valued at R20,000. The competition was launched in 2018; and has served as a launch pad for previous winners including one that has gone on to become a national supplier to Shoprite and Checkers, as is the case with Toys with Roots. The three-year-old company entered the 2018 Hustle competition to gain exposure for its range of African dolls – and ended up being one of the inaugural winners. Aside from the much-needed cash injection that boosted the young business, its Rainbow Kids dolls are now available at Shoprite and Checkers supermarkets around the country. This year Shoprite is looking for 20 new entrepreneurs to celebrate. Entries can be submitted online up to 4 September 2020; and winners will be announced from 14 September to 31 October 2020.

This week in numbers:


Over 60% of global consumers have changed their shopping behaviour on account of the pandemic, focusing more on convenience and value, according to McKinsey. Customer’s needs from products and services have also shifted owing to a sudden change in their economic and professional contexts. Accenture has found that 46% of people who never worked from home before now, plan to work from home more often in the future. These statistics represent only a fragment of the multitude of shifts that are happening with customers today, reported Dan Herman, head of customer experience at Wunderman Thompson South Africa, writing in, last week.

QUOTE of the week:

“Creating a safe and enjoyable retail experience has never been more critical or more sensitive to execute as demands may be unpredictable as ‘business unusual’ plays out and looks for stabilisation. Regardless of the time it takes to recover or the pattern it follows, shoppers and employees will be hyper-sensitive to hygiene standards in-store for the foreseeable future and poor PR could be devastating for retailers and brands,” said Michael Smollan, Chief Growth and Innovation Officer at Smollan, writing for


*Stocktake is a weekly roundup of current FMCG retailing and brand news, 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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