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.

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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.

Easter is a peak trading period for South African retailers. However, in the face of a global pandemic, Easter 2021 must be seen as a golden trading opportunity between Covid-19 waves. 

“Now is the time for retail merchants to innovate in preparation for consumer spending during the Easter weekend and school holidays. It is up to retailers to make the most of this opportunity to cash in ahead of the predicted third Covid-wave,” says Steven Heilbron, CEO of the Connect Group which provides a range of fintech solutions for SA’s retail industry.

Given the depths of the economic crisis South Africa is facing in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, businesses would have hoped to have seen bolder economic reforms and more support from the 2021 Budget Speech from Finance Minister Tito Mboweni, says Steven Heilbron, CEO of the Connect Group.

Heilbron says that the decision not to increase VAT or personal income tax is welcomed. It is positive that low to middle income earners will get a small amount of income tax relief from the Budget for 2021/22. Retailers and other SMEs will be relieved that the cash-strapped consumer will not be paying more PAYE.

Small and medium-sized retailers in SA will be hoping for some relief from the Finance Minister’s annual Budget Speech this year, following the devastating impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on their finances and businesses. Measures such as extending the Temporary Employer-Employee Relief Scheme (TERS) and easing red tape could help them to weather this turbulent time and get back into a growth mode.

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

After a difficult year that saw year-on-year sales fall every month between the start of the hard lockdown and September, South Africa’s retail sector is hoping for a fresh start in 2021. Merchants that start the year with access to financing and ready to pursue new opportunities, will be best positioned whatever the new year and lockdown restrictions may have in store.

This has been an extraordinarily difficult year for most South African retailers, with sales showing year-on-year declines for five consecutive months up to end-August, according to Stats SA. Many of them are hoping for a bumper Black Friday and festive season to set them back on the path to recovery following the income lost during the more restrictive levels of the COVID-19 lockdown.

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The retail cash bonanza that is Black Friday will have to be approached differently this year in view of Covid-19 prevention measures. But retailers that get it right, can end 2020 on a reasonably high note and set themselves up for growth and success.

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