The value of cash withdrawals at South African ATMs in December was up nearly 6 percent from last year, indicating a boost in overall holiday spending by consumers this year.
The data comes from the Spark Cash Index, which measures the average value of cash withdrawals across more than 2,000 Spark ATMs throughout South Africa. Spark found that consumers increased their average cash withdrawal amounts to R485.07 ($56.22) this year, as compared with R457.67 ($53.04) in December of 2011. Month-over-month growth was 9.57 percent.
Russel Berman, sales director at Spark ATM Systems, attributed this year's increase to "[a] combination of higher salaries, year-end bonus payouts and lower debt services costs."
However, Ronel Oberholzer, principal economist at IHS Global Insights, cautioned against painting too rosy a picture. Wholesale locations recorded the highest average cash withdrawal value of all sites, as well as the largest month-on-month and year-on-year increases, which Oberholzer saw as "a clear sign that consumers were definitely more price sensitive this festive season by buying food and drink in bulk to save on the per unit price."
Berman said that January historically registers a reduction in cash demand from the previous month. "This decline is mainly a result of January being a very long financial month as many people receive their salaries and bonuses early in December, which is subsequently spent on festive season entertaining and gifts. However, we do not expect the slowdown in activity to erase all the gains for December."
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