Since settling their strike, mine workers in South Africa have been back at the ATM to draw on their increased pay. New statistics from the Spark Cash Index, a monthly publication by Spark ATM Systems, indicates a positive month-on-month increase in cash withdrawals of more than three-quarters of a percent in November.

This follows a 2.27 percent drop in October when the mining strike was at its peak. Marc Sternberg, managing director of Spark ATM Systems, said the miners' return to work after two to three months without pay appears to have had a positive effect on cash withdrawal activity in November.

"This is highlighted by the rise in average cash withdrawal values at wholesale locations, which recorded a month-on-month growth of 1.36 percent and year-on-year growth of 16.96 percent," Sternberg said. "Spaza shop owners stocking up ahead of the Christmas season rush has also likely boosted ATM withdrawal values at wholesale locations." (Spaza refers to a small, informal shop in a township, often run out of a house.)

However, in rural areas, continuing farm labor strikes appear to be dampening spending. The SCI indicated a 2.7 percent month-on-month drop in ATM withdrawals in rural areas.

"Many of the farmworkers are seasonal migrant workers who spend their money before they return home, so if they lose their wages, they obviously do not have the disposable income to use, resulting in the decrease in ATM withdrawal activity recorded at these locations," said Ronel Oberholzer, principal economist at IHS Global Insights

Sternberg expects cash withdrawal values to continue their upward trend in the final month of the year. "Historically, December ATM cash withdrawal values reveal the highest month-on-month growth for the year due to increased spending over the festive season," he said. "We expect 2012 to be no different."

For more on this topic, visit the trends/statistics research center.

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