Johannesburg - South African retail trade sales for November ratcheted up an healthier than expected 7.8% year-on-year (y/y) increase after a revised 6.5% (6.1%) growth in October, figures released on Wednesday by Statistics South Africa showed.
The forecast was for a 6.9% y/y increase, according to a survey of leading economists.
The higher-than-expected number puts a damper on any lingering hopes of another cut when the bank announces its rates decision on Thursday. Retail sales have steadily recovered after consumers' pockets were hit by a recession in 2009 and analysts say there is some evidence that previous cuts from the South African Reserve Bank (Sarb) are having an impact.
The bank has axed rates by 650 basis points since December 2008 to a record low of 5.5%.
"No-one is going to be thinking that the Sarb needs to cut rates now," Razia Khan, Africa head of Research at Standard Charted, said.
"November, right before the festive season, typically sees some uplift to retail sales but a rise of this magnitude will have been unexpected. This is a full percentage point higher than the consensus expectation and may finally signal the return of the South African consumer," she added.
Forecasts among the six economists ranged from 6.5% to 7.4%.
Analysts said improved consumer confidence over the past few months has boosted traffic to retail stores.
Growth in retail sales came in stronger than expected, at 6.1% in September, from the 4.6% in August, partly marking gains from the end to the public sector strike.
Measured in real terms (constant 2008 prices), seasonally adjusted retail trade sales changed by 0.0% in November 2010 compared with October 2010.
This followed month-on-month changes of 0.7% in October 2010 and 0.4% in September 2010.
Retail trade sales in real terms rose by 6.8% in the three months ended November 2010 compared with the three months ended November 2009. Sales rose by 5.6% in the three months ended October 2010 compared with the three months ended October 2009.