The  Yoco Small Business Recovery   Monitor showed that small- and medium-sized (SME) business turnover increased by another 4 percent in the week to May 19, up to 44 percent of pre-Covid turnover levels countrywide.

SME’s are facing severe financial difficulties through Levels 5 and 4 of the lockdown as they have had to continue paying rent, salaries and other operational expenses while being forced to close through the lockdown.

Yoco, distributor of point-of-sale (POS) devices to more than 80 000 merchants who operate mainly small businesses, launched the Yoco Small Business Recovery Monitor this month, which as far as is known, is the only live, publicly available, small business transaction data resource.

The index can be used by entrepreneurs to benchmark performance and aid decision-making through what is likely to be one of the toughest trading periods for any company. The index tracks the recovery of small businesses in South Africa through the lockdown and thereafter.

Yoco said Thursday that the increase in the index over the week was driven by improvements in both the food, drink and hospitality industry (+5 percent) as well as in the retail (+3 percent) industry.

“These improvements are  testament to more restaurants pivoting to offer delivery and pickup services, as well as the supply of meal boxes and frozen meals,” the company said.

The opening up of e-commerce in totality (barring sale of alcohol and cigarettes) on May 14 had also driven up retail numbers, as businesses shift to selling online, and arranging contactless delivery or collection.

Previously, e-tailers were limited to the same approved item list as physical stores.

Changes to Level 4 regulations include a mandate for e-tailers to promote local goods and produce, which has had a positive impact on retail numbers for small businesses.

Provincial improvements in the index were driven by significant increases in SME turnover in Kwa-Zulu Natal (+5 percent), the Western Cape (+4 percent), Limpopo (+4 percent) and Gauteng (+3 percent).

The Kwa-Zulu Natal increases were a factor of large improvements in retail turnover in this province, with retail SME turnover levels breaking 80 percent of the pre-Covid reading for the first time.

Limpopo was the second province (after Northern Cape) to pass the halfway point of recovery, with SME turnover eclipsing the 50 percent mark of the pre-Covid levels for the first time this week.

This had been driven by improvements across all sectors, with retail passing 90 percent and food, drink and hospitality industry almost at 75 percent recovery.

Gauteng and Western Cape both saw improvements across all sectors, with retail in particular settling between 60-70 percent of the pre-Covid levels.

A shift in shopping trends was seeing turnover peak on Friday, as opposed to Saturday, the beginning of the weekend.

The drop-off in trading over weekends had been a recurrent theme through the month.

The index uses the number of transactions through POS devices two weeks ahead of the first case of Covid-19 in South Africa, as the 100 percent baseline from which to compare current small business turnover and economic activity against.

Source: www.iol.co.za