Consumers may be staying away from budget-breaking spending on clothing and furniture, but they are indulging in small luxuries, retail data from Statistics SA shows.
While the lipstick effect has kept sales of pharmaceuticals, medical goods, cosmetics and toiletries in growth territory, niche food, and drink and tobacco stores have also shown growth as consumers search for experiential products.
At constant prices, September’s retail data showed a 10.9% year-on-year rise in sales of specialised food, beverages and tobacco products.
This grouping of goods has shown steady year-on-year growth since June. Other categories have shown varying degrees of volatility.
Boston Consulting Group partner and MD Stefan Salzer said shoppers wanted to feel they were being treated "a bit better" without necessarily paying too much more.
"These stores give specialised attention which differentiates them from one-size-fits-all offerings."
Salzer said the rise in this category was an indicator of a consumers "desperately under pressure, but looking for a small treat they can easily afford without going bankrupt".