Lockdown devastated livelihoods: the numbers are out

Some industries were forced to shut down completely, leaving owners and employees hungry.
The magnitude of lost income is staggering. Image: Shutterstock

The results of four different statistical surveys published by Statistics SA within a few days all told the same story: devastation of economic activity and of people’s ability to earn a living. None of the industries covered by the four surveys escaped the damage brought on by the forced Covid-19 lockdown.

The reports covered sales and income in the motor trade industry, tourist accommodation, the transport industry, and food and beverage sectors. The figures show that all suffered severely during the quarter to end June.

April and May were the worst months, followed by a slight recovery in June. However, activity in June remained far below normal levels.

Read: Covid-19: B4SA foresees up to 4 million job losses

Tourism accommodation

It is no surprise that tourism accommodation suffered the most, given the total ban on leisure travel for most of the last few months. The number of bed nights sold by hotels, guest houses and caravan parks had already taken a hit in March, declining by nearly 40% compared with March 2019.

April and May saw near complete destruction, with bed nights sold declining 97% against a year earlier, as occupancy rates fell to less than 2%.

Total income in the tourism accommodation industry just about disappeared, falling from normal levels of around R2.2 billion per month to less than R55 million in April and R74 million in May. A note to Stats SA’s numbers says the figures include income from restaurants and bars at the different establishments, which we can assume was not much above zero.

Read: Hotel occupancies collapse to almost zero

Owners of businesses in the tourism sector – characterised by small independent operators – could not earn any money at all and simply had no income to pay employees.

Year-on-year percentage change in tourist accommodation

Jan 2020 Feb 2020 Mar 2020 Apr 2020 May 2020 Jun 2020
Stay units available 0,0% -0,1% -0,1% -0,2% -0,2% -0,2%
Unit nights sold 0,7% 1,8% -38,9% -97,1% -97,3% -92,3%
Income from accommodation 4,7% 8,1% -41,7% -98,0% -98,1% -94,5%
Total income 4,9% 6,4% -33,6% -98,6% -97,9% -95,3%

Source: Stats SA Tourist Accommodation Report, June 2020

Stats SA estimates that income earned by specifically guest houses and guest farms, declined by over 99% within the space of a few weeks – from R99 million in January to less than R500 000 in May.

Guest houses are mostly small family-run businesses.

Motor trade industry

The survey measuring trade in the motor industry found that sales fell by 49% (nearly R82 billion lower) during the three months to end-June, compared with the same quarter last year.

This translates to lost sales of around R1 billion every trading day.

April was the worst month, with turnover falling 84% compared with April 2019. It fell from R54 billion – around a monthly average – to less than R9 billion.

The loss of sales hit every participant in the sector. The notes explaining the research methodology say the information includes sales of new and used motor vehicles, fuel, oil, maintenance and repair work by workshops, motor cycle sales, spares and accessories, tyre sales, automotive electricians, radiator repairs, panel beaters and spray painters, and other sources of sales such as that at filling station convenience stores.

New and used car sales dropped more than 90%. The total sales value of new vehicles fell from above R13 billion in January and February to only R1 billion in April, while used car sales fell from R10 billion to R267 million.

Read: Desperate times forecast for vehicle dealerships post Covid-19

Once again, the huge declines would have been expected, but the sheer magnitude of lost income to countless small businesses and their employees is staggering.

Year-on-year percentage change in motor trade sales by type of activity (current prices)

Type of activity Jan 2020 Feb 2020 Mar 2020 Apr 2020 May 2020 Jun 2020
New vehicle sales -3,4% -3,0% -26,6% -92,2% -59,8% -5,0%
Used vehicle sales 3,4% 6,6% -17,5% -97,3% -56,8% 5,3%
Workshop income -1,0% 7,4% -9,3% -83,8% -54,1% -11,5%
Sales of accessories 0,2% 1,7% -11,3% -86,9% -30,7% -1,9%
Income from fuel sales 5,8% 12,2% -11,2% -71,1% -50,1% -34,1%
Convenience store sales -3,3% 5,9% -12,6% -59,9% -34,8% -22,3%
Total 1,3% 4,8% -16,2% -84,0% -50,1% -12,8%

Source: Stats SA Motor Trade Survey, June 2020

It is interesting to note that the motor trade recovered sharply in June. New and used car sales increased to just less than normal, as did workshop income, income from the sale of accessories, and fuel sales.

Total income in June was only around 13% lower than in January and February, although car dealers would be quick to point out that sales in the first few months of 2020 were much lower than in the previous year.

Food and beverage sector

In its report Stats SA says the Covid-19 pandemic and lockdown regulations since March have had an extensive impact on economic activity in the food and beverage sector. The figures show that total sales of food and beverages declined by nearly 96% in April and May at current prices.

It was even worse when accounting for inflation.

Stats SA’s figures indicate that food and beverage income dropped to zero in constant prices.

The survey collects data from tax-registered private and public enterprises that provide food and beverages for immediate consumption, such as restaurants, coffee shops, takeaway and fast-food outlets, and catering services.

Read: Dining industry still in ICU

Of these, only catering services operated in April – but at reduced levels, and with income from food sales during April more than 60% lower than the average for January and February. Restaurants, coffee shops, and takeaway and fast-food outlets reported zero income in April and not much above zero in May.

Food and beverage income at current prices by type of enterprise

R million Jan 2020 Feb 2020 Mar 2020 Apr 2020 May 2020 Jun 2020
Restaurants and Food sales 2 840 2 786 2 205  0  69  791
coffee shops Bar sales  294  286  167  0  0  11
Takeaway and Food sales 1 891 1 832 1 560  0  282 1 640
fast-food outlets Bar sales  9  7  6  0  0  2
Catering services Food sales  574  615  538  222  329  342
Bar sales  89  82  72  0  0  37
Total industry Food sales 5 304 5 232 4 303  222  680 2 773
Bar sales  391  375  245  0  0  50
Total (including other income) 5 823 5 719 4 642  252  715 2 880

Source: Stats SA Food and Beverage survey, June 2020

The alcohol ban resulted in zero income from bar sales in April and May from all operators in the industry. June reflected only a small recovery, with total income from all sales still 40% lower than normal.

The total loss of income in the industry amounted to more than R12 billion in the three months to end-June, compared with the three months to end-March, which was already not that good.

The figures for July are expected to show another slight improvement as restaurants and similar providers were allowed to open and sell meals, even though alcohol sales were still banned.

Land transport survey

The survey of businesses operating in the transport industry tells the same story of low economic activity, lost income and hardship.

Stats SA notes that income from freight transportation decreased by 26.8% in the second quarter of 2020 compared with the second quarter of 2019 due to a fall in the tonnage of freight that was transported, while the number of passenger journeys decreased by nearly 66% in the past quarter compared with a year ago.

The survey covers enterprises involved in land transportation and includes railway transport of passengers and freight and other scheduled passenger land transport (such as urban, suburban and inter-city buses), as well metered taxis, rental of cars with drivers and all freight transport by road.

Stats SA notes that the numbers for passenger transportation exclude minibus taxis and private cars, and freight transport figures exclude inhouse transportation.

It is noticeable from the figures that economic activity was already subdued at the beginning of the year; freight tonnage was already 7.2% lower in January than a year ago.

In April, when the pandemic had hit and the economy was shut down, freight transport volumes dropped by nearly 40% compared with a year earlier.

A table in the report that shows income from freight transportation by type of commodity shows that businesses in every sector of the economy were hit hard.

Freight transportation income at current prices by type of commodity – Q2, 2020

R million Apr-Jun 2019 Apr-Jun 2020 % change
Agriculture and forestry primary products 2 732 2 370 -13,3%
Primary mining and quarrying 15 615 12 107 -22,5%
Manufactured food, beverages and tobacco 4 379 3 479 -20,6%
Textile, clothing and leather goods  648  447 -31,0%
Chemicals, coke, petroleum, rubber and plastics 2 740 2 307 -15,8%
Basic and fabricated metal products 1 509  431 -71,4%
Non-metallic products  897  492 -45,2%
Electrical machinery, transport machinery and equipment  605  377 -37,7%
Motor vehicles, parts and accessories  853  396 -53,6%
Paper and paper products  303  253 -16,5%
Commercial products  655  513 -21,7%
Used household and office goods  529  280 -47,1%
Containers 2 253 1 526 -32,3%
Parcels  799  613 -23,3%
Other freight 7 579 5 227 -31,0%
Total income 42 092 30 818 -26,8%

Source: Stats SA Land Transport Survey, June 2020

The transport of basic metal and fabricated metal products experienced the largest decline, more than 71%, as factories were closed. The transport of motor vehicles, parts and accessories, as well as general non-metallic manufactured goods, also declined sharply as production came to a halt for weeks on end.

It is worth remembering that each of these sectors employs thousands of people, a large percentage of whom were mostly left with reduced or no income for a few months.

The land transport survey shows that seasonally-adjusted passenger journeys decreased by two thirds in the second quarter of 2020 from the first quarter. Road passenger journeys decreased by 53.5% and rail passenger journeys basically ceased totally (decreasing by 99.2%).

People couldn’t go to work or engage in any activity that would have generated income had they been working in normal circumstances.

Stats SA has scheduled the publication of few more reports this week that will probably tell the same story of hardship. These include statistics on liquidations and insolvencies, civil cases for debt and figures relating to the building and construction industry.

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The big winner as a result of lockdown, the NDR.

Correction this article should read

“The Communist led ANC Government destroyed livelihoods,”not the Lockdown.

They were the cause of it.Their narrative going forward will be job creation, yet their inability to Govern is as bad as their policies (and lies)

How do they expect to remedy a situation when they are both the cause and the problem..?
Their mission was to target minority owned businesses, but they forgot that it’s these same business who employs their voters, same whom are now jobless

Thicker than three coats of paint the lot are, i tell you!

Indeed, “the NDR”. Not to mention the Criminal Cadre Cabal associated with it. Given a major boost by the illicit tobacco and alcohol trade bonanza with handsome “gifts” for the next election campaign and more perks for the politburo.

Simply jaw dropping and sad seeing it in black and white.

This is what you get when you have a group of clueless self serving ‘communists’, making decisions based on a group of ‘top expert’ opinions, both of which are totally detached from reality.

The 60 deciding the fate of the 60 million. No consultation and no consideration – for what are and will be far more deadly consequences than covid!

You are assuming that people were going to carry on with their daily lives while those around them were getting sick or dying. Human nature doesn’t work that way, and movement data from around the world shows that people locked down themselves. In “herd immunity” poster-child Sweden, people did more social distancing than in many countries with formal lock-downs.

Nonetheless, without a time-machine, we can’t compare the two options, so there’s no way to decide if was overkill. So we will resort to our default political positions.

There has never been one single successful communist country. There has never been a communist country to which people fled en masse. It’s always the other way round. So there can fundamentally not, as a point of departure, be any argument whatsoever that communism has failed dismally.

As for your time machine comment, a lock-down was never, ever going to work in SA, and many people, myself included, predicted this from the start. The following may not be what you want to hear, but it’s a fact: the communist regime killed the economy for no reason whatsoever.

DSS….perhaps explain why grocery stores remained open?
Or garages? Pharma-retail? Etc
Explain why other businesses were “ordered” to close

So where is the human extinct to self-quarantine?

Known fact, WW2 Londoners were ordered to remain in the underground during the aerial bombing campaign
Almost 3 weeks into the bombing, a trickle turned to into thousands telling the government to get ***ked and emerged to get on with life even while ordinance was destroying the city and taking lives

This government used fear to manage the so called crisis and I doubt they have answers for the calamity and destruction they ignorantly sowed

doubt they are communists.More like democrats who are protecting their friends with white monopoly capital.

Let’s see what happens in the next six months, without lockdown and without a vaccine. If these “experts” are correct, we will see a return to pre-pandemic demand from restaurant and hotel patrons.

Human nature, where people have seen friends and family die from Covid-19, and don’t want to risk a ventilator for a steak dinner, will collide with economic theory, where supply and demand can be turned on and off like a tap.

Either way, at least the last few months of unrelenting complaining will come to an end.

Thanks for highlighting this. Sure there’s many out there going about life like everything is normal with a forced mask but speak to your white collar colleague and there’s no way they are going back to office. Beyond SA Inc’s problems, the economy is under pressure because we just don’t want to do normal things. I doubt tourists are begging South Africa to open its borders. Not with infections still rising as they are.

It’s super polarised. I have colleagues that won’t go back to an office if they can help it, and others that were on the first flights to go to a weekend getaway.

Seems everyone is avoiding sitdown restaurants for the most part though, even the ones calling it a hoax..

Or perhaps people don’t like to be told they can’t have bottle of wine with their expensive meal, which was the case until very recently.

By the way, did you also miss the part about the economic devastation, salary reductions and retrenchments? Dining out is extremely low on the list of stuff somebody who’s just lost his job or had his salary cut is going to pay for.

@Incitatus, many lost their jobs and of course they’re not dining out. But quite a number have been doing very well in this environment due to certain industries taking off. If you were doing fine and used to like dining out, many don’t seem to be doing it. These were not people that drank wine but just went for lunch or dinner. They haven’t gone back, because there isn’t any point when you work from home all day. Of course my experience is just anecdotal and not reflective of the majority of the country like the stats in the article.

@JBlack, you’re making assumptions based on a lack of evidence here. There can be many reasons for empty restaurants, in addition to fearing the virus. In the midst of a great economic depression, many people simply do not have money to dine out, and even those that do have money, may be worried that they have to save because they may be next in line to lose their jobs. To jump to the conclusion that people are scared of the virus and that’s why restaurants are empty, is speculation.

No, we will not easily see a return to pre covid levels. And no, that does not imply people are scared to go to restaurants or want to ‘socially distance’. The main reason for many people i know is that they have been totally financially destroyed by the lockdown , and will not be able to spend any money on luxury items in a very very long time

Fear mongering at its finest.

People believe the this corona virus is so much worse than the other corona virusses along with believing there will be a vaccine for an RNA strained virus… If that existed, then cancer or aids wouldnpt be a problem.

Keep believing the lies so that ypu can keep living in fear while weakening your immune system one week at a time so that any virus will be able to kill you.

I want to live, but people are too scared to thrive because the corrupt and incompetent government told them its for their own safety… Just like the germans told the jews during WW2 in the concentration camps.

The true cost of this epic overreaction is now clear. The real life experiment of lockdown has been a catastrophic failure with an untold cost to our economy. Jobs have been lost that will never be recreated, and given our governments chronic inability to create value, I can’t see SA recovering from this.

We are not meant to recover. This virus was is meant to destroy the middle-class globally, destroy the small businesses, so that big corps can take over.

To usher in the feudal system. Why do you think the Feds are quick to print money from thin air and bail out big corps…bail out means ownership by the Feds.

Its all about control…through fear.

We will see waves after waves of new infections into 2021, and in turn more lockdowns to purge of the small businesses and the middle-class.

Prep up.

Really. What world are you living in?

The title of this article is wrong.

Should be, the lockdown devastated lives, not livelihoods.

And hundreds of times more lives than we lost to the virus. All brought to you by the stunningly deaf corona command council who relished their draconian control in the name of saving lives.

They are about to discover that the economy is not a light switch that can be turned on and off by will.

It will take years to recover lost ground, if ever. And the millions hit by this lockdown will continue to suffer while our infections continue to rise.

So what did the lockdown accomplish? Well zero apart from devastation. SA is in the big 5 of infections, Apart from the western cape seems little preparation was done.

But it did offer up some wonderful new looting opportunities for the ruling predator party: black markets and PPE.

And put the country firmly into junk status and much, much closer to becoming a failed state.

Now we can try socialism to fix things. Brace for total collapse.

Crime against humanity.

Socialists of every stripe are quite predictable — when the policies fail, double down!

Before covid, ANC already a crime against humanity. If they will not restore law and order we’ll see them in the international criminal court for sure. Nothing goes on forever.

They will do nothing of the sort. They are stealing as much as they can because they know that they won’t have the majority next election. They are laughing at all of us, because let’s face it, there is actually nothing that anyone can do fast enough to stop it. Even after exposure, its takes years and years to get anyone prosecuted and sentenced. The assumption is that everyone is afraid of the law -They aren’t.

As per Zambia, the only obese individuals are those working for govermund. Welcome in Africa

Lockdown is the ultimate display of economic ignorance, short-sightedness and naivety. Lockdown was a stupid idea, in other words.

The responsible way would be to calculate the financial cost of the measures before you implement them. To simply ignore the costs is criminally negligent and typical of the Centrally Planned communist system. Individuals who do not carry the directs cost of their decisions and actions, prescribe devastating measures that other people must pay for. This kind of decisionmaking system cannot survive because it is highly unstable, unreliable and destructive.

The individuals who make decisions must bear the consequences. This is true of the market system. If an entrepreneur makes an error he pays for it. For the socialists, however, those who make decisions are completely isolated from the effect. If the socialist leaders make errors the community pays for it. The members of the Coronavirus Central Command Council are obese, while the society they rule over is starving.

The WHO is the most dangerous group of central planners on earth and their advice and directives will cause more damage and suffering than Boko Haram. The road to hell is paved with good intention……and ignorance.

Again very well said and again your valid arguments will come to naught. It’s was the same when VAT was increased by 1%. Why? Simply put it went something like this; Honourable Gigaba: “We c****d up (again), you will have to pay for it” It’s all so very convenient. Same as pillaging the so called Covid relief fund. Every time I see someone wearing a cap, shirt or some other apparel with the ruling party logo/slogan it reminds me of how bad an inescapable predicament we find ourselves in. Here is someone advertising that they agree with the mafia state we are in. They are happy with load shedding, state capture, increased crime levels, brazen corruption, reverse discrimination, gravy training, elitist entitlement and above all moral bankruptcy. Had a phone call yesterday from a highly educated and skilled, married couple (who were until yesterday my clients) that are busy with full fledged financial emigration. More brain power lost, more South Africans resorting to one of the last democratic rights left to them; voting with their feet. This Lockdown was so very short sighted at best, but also played so well into the hands of our ruling party. A few hundred wineries going down the tubes? Fantastic! More farms for government to seize and let lie fallow… More foreign exchange lost, therefore more Rand depreciation.And that’s but one example out of the potential hundreds on the way. If someone can honestly say this Lockdown was worth the economic bloodshed with solid numbers to back up their argument then that would be welcome. 4 Million jobs lost; it beggars belief how we the average Jane & Joe let the cabal get away with yet another costly and base scheme again…

Remember S A was already junk BEFORE this .02% killing pandemic. Flu 4.2%

Yep.we were allready bankrupt, so covid19 was fuel on the fire for SA.

sadly the ANC govermund is using Covid as an excuse for their inability to govern.

The purge is not over yet, we will go back to level 3 or 4, thanks to Babalula and his mobile Covid spreading apparatus.

Given this, there is no way that the economy will shrink only 7.2% this year. It will be a much bigger contraction.

If ever there was proof how much power the government has to create a climate that can either grow or kill the economy…

If ever people needed proof to vote with their heads and not their hearts…

I wonder if enough businesses will have any taxable income over the current financial year and if SARS will have any notable collection at the end of the year? How will SA pay all these ‘Billions’ in grants and debt going forward?

And still the government is pushing for BEE/transformation in an attempt to win votes. Their plan means that fewer and fewer of the ‘right skin colour’ will have a smaller and smaller pie all to themselves until the pie is gone.

Government can just print money, like Venezuela and Zimbabwe did to pay grants and rand-denominated debt. This will of course destroy the rand in the process and lead to higher inflation, offshore investments offer a hedge against future rand weakness.

For the last 15 years South Africa has been a train crash waiting to happen. The harsh decisions taken by ignorant politicians, egged on by clueless Academe, who live in their own world. divorced from reality. has increased the speed by multiples. By the way, these people had full salaries and benefits during the lockdown.
Now, we ask, is that fair?
I help those I know who have lost their jobs, and I have paid my staff full salary throughout the lockdown, but how many people can really afford to do this.
I despair of this goverment.

I said from the beginning that a hard lockdown was a mistake as all it does is delay the Covid-19 peak, but at a terrible economic cost. Pointless destruction when the vast majority of people who get Covid-19 will recover fine at home. Those in the high risk brackets should be protected and taken extra precautions, including everyone wearing masks in crowded areas. However shutting down the country was not a solution. It has now lead to an economic depression with millions of unemployed. The human, social and economic cost of this lockdown will be felt for many years to come.

and it is time that CR should acknowledge the absolute poor judgement on his side and the other incompetent people in his governmund in handling of this…….their mistake = they looked at how first world countries ( which could afford it ) implemented hard lock downs and braggingly done the same.

It’s amazing how intimidated the general public is by the SABC’s round pointy germ propaganda. At the cashier nobody wants to handle your card give them cash and they have no problem in counting it, putting it in their tills and paying it out again which would imply that cards are germ invested but money is totally germ free.

Notice too there are no annual winter flu stats this year………..

In 2011, political analyst and author Moeletsi Mbeki predicted SA’s “Tunisia Day” will arrive in 2020.

This is when the masses rise against the powers that be. Now you might have dismissed it back then, but with the way things are looking at the moment, it seems highly possible. The year 2020 is when China estimates that its current minerals-intensive industrialization drive will come to an end.

He did not predict that as a result of a flu virus hitting us – he knew that “social grants’’ do not make the poor productive – but that they buy votes, and that the payment thereof wasn’t guaranteed.
Little did he even know to what extent the ‘’Champagne Socialists’’ and their handpicked cadres bankrupt and corrupt the state on an hourly basis.
My view is that the ANC has taken control of the juridical system already – the Constitutional court rulings to try and salvage what is left, will soon become a futile exercise and it will be rendered a ‘’lame-less duck’’.

Africa Addio type violence and mayhem that occurred in the 1960s will erupt again – but this time not against the ex ‘’Colonist’’ rulers, but against the ANC’s form of corruptive government and self-enrichment.

PS Moderator: I am only quoting what’s already in the public domain for > 10 years!

This article is a frightening and sobering read, confirming our worst nightmares regarding this “pandemic”… as if those visions needed affirmation or we should mandate sobriety again.

My view from the outset was that this is more a “Smackdown” than a “Lockdown”.

If SA was a prizefighter, we would be needing a full blood transfusion and a year in ICU!

At least now we can read the stats with a stiff shot of single malt and a snort of aromatic bitters.

If there was a v1rus, everyone would be infected by now and still it has no more effect than the common flu. Death rates are low and dth certs altered to fit the narrative. M@sk wearing causes hypoxia and acidosis altering the bodies natural PH to acid, which is a breeding ground for disease. S@nitisers contain denatured @lcohol and meth@nol which is absorbed at a cellular level and can result in blindness and a host of other issues. Stress is one of the 7 most deadly pathogens. In combination this will alter the bodies natural function causing respiratory distress. The test that is performed does not show up a v1rus, but an exosome, which is a microscopic v1rus sized entity that the body releases to fight infection. This we all have so we will all test pos. The test merely amplifies any genetic material that is in the swab and anyone can be made to test pos if they amplify enough. The “v1rus” does not meet the four criteria of Coch’s postulate to qualify as a v1rus, but nobody cares enough to research it, because we are too busy being scared and starring at each other over our m@sks. It’s time that people wake up to this fake p@ndemic. It’s never been about a v1rus.
See for yourself.Go to plandemicseries.com

Really. What world are you living in? It can’t be under your feet, that’s for sure.

I could ask the same for you… Go read up on hypoxia, not every that isn’t fear mongering is a conspiracy. I would say covid-19 being this super bad virus is the biggest conspiracy and millions are falling for it through fear and misunderstanding of how to read data/stats.

Mate, while you might be happy denying the virus while you live in your bubble, I know people who have died from it, not to mention the people I know who have caught it. Our problem has never been the virus, it has been our response to it that has exasperated the problem and caused untold damage to the people of South Africa – far worse than what the virus itself could do.

South africa was in recession before covid19.Besides there was eskom
that is still broken and mismanaged by overpaid and overrated whitemen and their appies.Then there is SAA draining the taxpayers
and their children’s children.When the gupthas whent away the corruption got worsened by white monopoly capital eg bosasa,steinhoff,several scams..

Some government employees tried hard during the disruption of lockdown, many others had a four month long paid holiday, despite SA government employees being amongst the most highly paid in the world.

In the courts some of the prosecutors are still not committing to work, prolonging their four month holiday.

No need to read this article, beyound the top. The picture says it all.
Finis en klaar. Pelile. Niks nie. Kaput.

End of comments.

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