Lockdown: Fewer card transactions in SA than on typical Christmas Day

Business Insider SA
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  • ATM and card transactions during lockdown have plummeted to record lows.  
  • On Sunday, far fewer transactions were recorded than on a typical Christmas day.
  • Judging from the current activity, it looks like about 70% of the consumer-facing economy has fallen away, an economist says.
  • For more stories, go to Business Insider's home page.

An analysis of ATM transactions and point-of-sale (POS) transactions at stores across South Africa confirms very little is going on in the economy during lockdown.

South Africa entered an unprecedented 21-day lockdown on Friday to slow the spread of Covid-19 in the country, which has so far killed three people.  

By Sunday, only 1.2 million transactions at ATMs and stores were recorded – which are only 60% of the usual number on Christmas Day and during the Easter holidays, according to a report by BankservAfrica and

In fact, it was the lowest number of transactions since records started ten years ago,  says Mike Schüssler, chief economist at told Business Insider SA.

On a typical day after the 25th (typically pay day in South Africa), around 5.4 million transactions are recorded.

By Sunday, the transaction volumes were just 28% of the normal for the same day last year.

But this follows a massive spike in transactions in the run-up to the lockdown:

BankservAfrica’s daily point of sale and ATM transaction volumes for March 2019 and 2020. Source: BankservAfrica and

Judging from the current activity, it looks like about 70% of the consumer-facing economy has fallen away, says Schüssler.

TAKE A LOOK: What you can find at Pick n Pay, Woolies and others during lockdown

Consumers make up about 60% of expenditure in the domestic economy, so a one-month lockdown could see GDP plummet.

While the SA Reserve Bank only sees the domestic economy shrink by 0.2% this year, other economists expect a decline of more than 2%.

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