17 of 2023

Newsletter No 17/5 May2023                              


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Retail sales decline less than expected in February

By Andries Mahlangu

DIY market hit especially hard, according to Stats SA data

Retail sales continued to decline in February, signalling that consumers’ disposable income remains under strain from high inflation and interest rates, even though the contraction was less than market expectations.

Retail sales fell 0.5% year on year in February, Stats SA said in a statement on Wednesday, a slight improvement on the annual decline of 0.8% reported in January.

General dealers, along with retailers in hardware, paint and glass, were the main drag on overall sales. The DIY market was hit especially hard, falling at an annual rate of 7.7% after a 5% contraction in January despite the low base set in the previous comparable period.

Sales of textiles, clothing, footwear and leather goods surprised, accelerating 5.5% on annual basis from 2.5% in January.

On a monthly basis and adjusted for seasonal factors, retail sales contracted 0.1% compared with a rise of 1.5% in January.  BL

The classic tie: as transformative as ever

By Declan Gibbon

Brioni light brown micro motif silk tie.

Ties allow you to express yourself, offering a peak at the depth beneath your suits – here are some of the best ties on our radar

When I was a child, my dad had two wooden lacquered boxes in the back of his closet. They were filled with the most incredible trinkets, guitar picks, jewellery, lighters, pins and, among these gems, there were also a few ties.

There was one with flying elephants, a Mickey Mouse one, a John Lennon one with a super date shape, and even Robin Williams’ Genie, a true Aladdin’s den. My brother and I adored these boxes and we took them out almost monthly, each time finding something new that appealed to us. As we grew and our tastes developed, new objects appealed to us while previous favourites were dismissed. However, the ties always had a special spot in my heart, teenagers and children don’t have many chances to wear ties, so they remained a pipe dream. I wore a tie for the first time at my sister’s wedding and then a decade or so later at matric dances — occasions that dictated the most boring of ties. I now love wearing suits and formal shirts, Freud would probably allude to some unresolved trauma from my boys school experience, but I feel comfortable and confident with a starched collar.

Ties elevate outfits to a peak of sophistication and professionalism. They are a truly transformative accessory and come in a variety of cuts, colours and patterns. Neutral ties are traditional and formal, bold ties can offer your style and humour amid your sophistication. Fun ties are a tricky tight walk to navigate humour, irony, or just cringe. The 2010s unfortunately allowed the advent of Happy Socks, moustache graphics on everything, and boring white-collar men decided funky coloured socks were all they need to be self-realised.

Ties allow you to express yourself, offering a peak at the depth beneath your suit, rather than calling attention to your skinny ankles and fashion sense plucked from Christmas stockings or subscription boxes.

I now have a moderately corporate, yet creative, job that allows me to wear formal wear with a little bit of quirk, perfect for ties. Unfortunately, it has now been years since I peered inside my dad’s memory boxes and the location of the ties (I especially want the John Lennon one) is lost to time or to my parent’s storage.

The diamond walks of Sandton City and the V&A are feasts of great neckwear, I always focus on brands that mean something to me rather than just the ties themselves. Like white dress shirts, it is easy to fall into high-school trends and styles, you do not want to look like you are going to matric dance.

Ties are also a great way to subvert gender norms, from Marlene Dietrich to Princess Diana and Bella Hadid, the necktie can elevate all genders and outfits — just look at Frank Ocean’s 2020 Met Gala look (above). One hundred percent silk ties are the gold standard and my go-to, they’re light, versatile and work with most collars, while wool ties add a vintage and mature edge to an outfit.   

AGOA boosts job growth in Sub-Saharan Africa’s apparel sector: USITC


  • The AGOA programme has had a substantial impact on beneficiary countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, particularly in the apparel sector, according to a USITC report.
  • Of non-petroleum imports under AGOA, imports of textile and apparel constitute the largest share.
  • However, the benefits of AGOA accrue to a subset of countries and sectors within SSA.

The impact of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) programme on beneficiary countries within Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) can be substantial depending on the sector, according to a report by the US International Trade Commission (USITC). The programme has had a positive impact on poverty reduction and job growth in some countries, particularly in the apparel sector.

AGOA benefits accrue to a subset of countries and sectors within Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). Over three-quarters of non-crude petroleum imports under AGOA originated from five countries during 2014–21: South Africa, Kenya, Lesotho, Madagascar, and Ethiopia. Countries with lower utilisation rates typically have few exports to the US in general or their primary traded goods are not eligible for AGOA preferences or are already duty-free under normal trade relations.

The SSA apparel sector has benefitted substantially from the AGOA programme. Of non-petroleum imports under AGOA, imports of textile and apparel constitute the largest share. Duty savings of up to 30 per cent and the third-country fabric provision have allowed multiple countries to expand their manufacturing capacity. Employment in this sector has provided an avenue for women to enter the formal economy and earn relatively high wages, as per the AGOA: Program Usage, Trends, and Sectoral Highlights report by USITC.

Agricultural products like cotton are important sectors for a number of SSA economies. Growing these crops employs millions of farmers across the region, and their export is critical for accessing foreign exchange. However, growing cotton provides low income and therefore does not provide a reliable pathway for poverty reduction.

While meeting AGOA eligibility requirements created a positive impact on workers and poverty reduction, the loss of programme eligibility due to failure to meet programme requirements had a negative impact on beneficiary economies and regional integration, the report added.

The investigation and report were requested by the US House of Representatives Committee on Ways and Means in a letter received on January 19, 2022.  F2F

TFG gets approval for Street Fever takeover

Cape Town, W. Cape, SA – The Tribunal has approved, subject to employment and local procurement related conditions, the proposed merger whereby Foschini Retail Group (Pty) Ltd intends to acquire the business conducted under the Street Fever business name from MT Street Fever (Pty) Ltd.

Post-merger, the Street Fever business will be solely controlled by Foschini, and by extension, The Foschini Group (“TFG”).
In line with the conditions imposed by the Tribunal, for 3 years after the merger’s approval date, the merged entity will keep a record of retrenched employees and notify them of any employment opportunities that arise, taking into consideration qualifications, expertise and physical location. In addition, the merged entity will not retrench any employees as a result of the merger for a period of 3 years from the transaction’s approval date.

On local procurement, the merged entity will replace imported apparel and footwear products with those from local manufacturers for a specified period and value. A portion of the spend must be geared towards small businesses owned by historically disadvantaged persons.

TFG is a South African chain-store group with fashion and lifestyle retail brands offering clothing, cosmetics, jewellery, sporting apparel and equipment, cell phones, mobile technology products, homeware and furniture. TFG’s retail offering is available in-store and online. Relevant to the proposed transaction are TFG’s lifestyle fashion retail chains i.e. Totalsport, Sports Scene, Archive and Sneaker Factory.

The target business is a South African retailer of branded lifestyle and sports-inspired “athleisure” footwear, apparel and accessories presently conducted under the business name “Street Fever”. Street Fever has stores across South Africa and its retail offering is also available online.   S&V

In the 1500s, fashion designers showed off their clothing by putting it on miniature dolls. There were no such thing as models until 1853.


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