The looming economic and unemployment crisis now worries South Africans more than the coronavirus pandemic itself, and many are already feeling the impact on their pocket.
This is according to new research from market research company GfK, which conducts a Consumer Pulse survey on a monthly basis among a representative group of 450 South Africans.
The latest poll was done during level 4 of the state of restriction. Of this, 86% of respondents in level 4 were “extremely concerned” about unemployment.
At level 5, 80% of respondents were “extremely concerned” about Covid-19. This was the main concern for the respondents at that time.
In the latest poll, that percentage dropped to 66%.
Among the 450 respondents, 74% are now worried about a large-scale economic crisis, and for many it has already begun.
Only 21% of respondents were able to work at level 4 of the restriction and almost seven in ten say their income has decreased.
A quarter could only work for reduced hours and 7% were already fired.
“While increasing numbers of South Africans or members of their families are exposed to the coronavirus, larger numbers are directly experiencing the economic fallout of the virus and the state of containment,” says Rachel Thompson, director of insights at GfK South Africa.
“Even though they are eager to do the things they love again, they seem to have accepted that many things in their life are going to change substantially; not much of it is positive.
“Almost half (46%) say they expect their job situation to be worse after the crisis and 68% expect very small businesses to close.”
Most respondents (79%) expect work from home to become the new norm.
But the respondents are not only down, 80% also think they are being exploited by retailers.
More than half (52%) say prices have risen significantly during the state of containment, and 67% even think that fair price increases aren’t acceptable during the crisis.
According to GfK, it is dangerous for brands to now be regarded as consumer exploiters.
“Brands that are now abusing their market power may struggle to regain consumer confidence as we move towards the ‘new normal’,” says Thompson.