Nearly every small and medium-sized retailer in South Africa knows what it’s like to miss out on a special bulk pricing promotion from a supplier or lose the chance to stock up because it cannot access the financing it needs to grab the opportunity. Indeed, a 2020 PWC survey found that 22% of business owners ranked access to funding as their largest challenge.

At its heart, the retail industry is all about the efficient management of time and money. It’s about offering customers choice in payment method  while securely managing the cash that flows into the retail store. It’s about quick access to working capital necessary to pursue trading opportunities as they arise. And it’s about finding new ways to improve profit margin and increase revenues.

According to Steven Heilbron, CEO of the Connect Group, retailers have a key role to play in rebuilding the economy in the wake of the devastation of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, to succeed in these difficult operating condition, small and medium sized retailers need to improve efficiencies, streamline cash flow and exploit new revenue streams.

Given that cash is here to stay, every responsible merchant needs to find ways to safeguard the cash on their premises. With smart, intelligent, and automated cash management, retail stores can trade with a greater sense of security.  

Despite the progressive drive towards all things digital, particularly in the financial space, cash is still king in South Africa. This is underpinned by findings in a 2019 report released by the Payments Association of SA stating that more than 50% of consumer transactions were completed with notes and coins.

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Following rumours that the President would introduce a fourth ban on alcohol sales over Easter, liquor traders should be relieved that there will only be a brief pause on alcohol sales for offsite consumption over the long weekend. In fact, many bottle store owners will benefit from brisk trade as people stock up ahead of the weekend, says Steven Heilbron, the CEO of the Connect Group.

The brief pause on alcohol sales will leave taverns, pubs, restaurants and other venues for onsite consumption unaffected, while bottle store owners will be able to enjoy strong sales leading to Easter and still get to enjoy a long weekend with their families.

The Easter weekend and upcoming school and public holidays are an important trading season for retailers, but they also often see crimes against retail businesses soar as criminals target commodities like premium liquor brands, cigarettes, jewellery and electronics. 

“With the exception of 2020, when there was a hard national lockdown in place, we have seen armed robberies and other business crimes spike over the Easter period in recent years,” says Mark Templemore-Walters, Operations Director for Cash Connect.

After a difficult year that saw year-on-year sales fall every month between the start of the hard lockdown and September, SA's retail sector is hoping for a fresh start in 2021

While there is a progressive drive towards digital and electronic transactions, the reality is that cash still plays a dominant and valuable role in the South African economy, for both consumers and retailers.

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Publication: IOL
Date: 23 Sep 2020

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Publication: Retailing SA
Date: 23 Sep 2020
Shaun Bateman

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According to the PYMNTS Global Cash Index™ South Africa Analysis, more than 50 percent of consumer transactions are completed with notes and coins. With around R135 billion in cash circulating in the economy and millions of unbanked citizens, the drive towards a cashless society risks harming those it purports to help.