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South Africa Inflation cools slightly to 7.5%

Annual consumer price inflation cooled to 7.5% in September from 7.6% in August, which was slightly better than economists expected.

Still, it’s clear that South Africans continue to suffer from eyewatering price increases.

Annual food and non-alcoholic beverage inflation increased to 11.9% from 11.3% in August, with bread and cereal prices up 19.3% from a year before – the biggest increase in 13 years.

Still, Statistics South Africa says that food prices are showing signs of cooling down.

The 0.5% monthly increase in food and beverage prices was lower than the 1.8% monthly rise recorded in August.

Prices for sunflower oil slumped by 8.0% in a single month, with the average price of a 750ml bottle of cooking oil falling to R41.38 from a high of R45.33 in July. “Despite this decrease, the price is still significantly higher than the R30.98 consumers paid in September 2021,” noted Statistics SA.

Annual meat inflation was 9.9%, but the monthly change slowed from 0.7% to 0.5%.

However, September’s inflation data showed worrying increases in other prices.

Personal care products were 8.3% higher than a year ago – the highest annual increase since December 2009. The monthly increase for personal care products was 1.9%, more than double the 0.8% recorded in August, Statistics SA reported.

Clothing and footwear prices rose by 2.8% from September 2021, the fastest annual increase in more than four years.

The latest consumer inflation number also includes rental data, which showed an annual increase of 2.8%, the highest reading since before the pandemic, in February 2020.

The annual consumer inflation number of 7.5% is lower than the 7.6% median expectation of the 13 economists that Bloomberg surveyed.

Prices also rose by only 0.1% from August to September, from a monthly rise of 0.2% in August.

This was partly due to lower fuel prices, after petrol and diesel prices were lowered at the start of September. This slowed the annual fuel price inflation rate to 34.1%, down from a high of 56.2% reported in July.

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