The number of South Africans shopping online has fallen by four per cent in the last year, according to the latest MasterCard Online Shopping Survey, though more are reportedly highly satisfied with their overall experience.
South Africa leads Africa in terms of the number of respondents who said they usually use the internet for online shopping at 54 per cent, twice the regional average, ahead of Egypt (36 per cent) and Nigeria (18 per cent).
Yet despite 91 per cent of South Africans who shop online saying they were highly satisfied with the online shopping experience – up from 87 per cent the year before – the number actually shopping online has decreased.
“While online shopping continues to be a regular internet activity for more than half of South Africans who are actively online, there is a slight shift downwards in their online purchasing behaviour, which could be attributed to the slowdown recorded in the economy during the survey period,” said Philip Panaino, division president, MasterCard, South Africa.
“This is supported by The South African Reserve Bank noting in its fourth quarter review of 2012 that retail activity was disappointing as consumer spending was negatively affected by a pickup in inflation.”
World Wide Worx managing director Arthur Goldstuck said there had been a “rapid rise” in the number of South Africans active online, meaning a larger base of users who have yet to shop online.
“These users add to South Africa’s population of more experienced Internet users – those who have been online for five years or more – which has increased significantly from under four million in 2012 to around 4.6 million this year,” he said.
“This means that even as the amount spent online keeps rising steadily – at more than 30 per cent a year according to our data – the proportion of users shopping online is declining, which ties in with the decline MasterCard has recorded of active online shoppers here.”
The survey, now in its third year, was conducted in 11 countries across the Middle East and Africa region between December 2012 and January 2013. The South African report surveyed 500 banked South Africans aged between 18 and 64, who access the internet at least once a week.