The mall@emba in eMbalenhle. (Anaprop)
  • A new survey of 500 million vehicle trips found that South Africans are driving less as higher petrol prices and the weak economy start to bite.
  • The research, conducted by Lightstone and Tracker, also shows that visits to malls are down 5% in a year.
  • Petrol station traffic has fallen by 10%.

A new survey shows that South Africans are driving less as petrol prices and the weak economy start to bite.

The data analysis firm Lightstone Explore and the vehicle security group Tracker have developed an economic monitoring report based on a sample of 250,000 vehicles.

Analysis of some 500 million vehicle trips over the past twelve months, covering more than seven billion kilometres, shows that the distances covered by South African motorists is down 8% in June 2018 compared to July 2017.

Consumers have been hit hard by very sharp fuel increases in recent months and travellers are either making alternative travel arrangements (carpooling or public transport) or they are opting to work from home, says Trevor Holmes, managing director at Lightstone Explore.

The survey also looked at visits to some 1,000 shopping centres and more than 3 200 service stations – and found a sharp decline across South Africa.

Visits to service stations are down 10% on a year ago.

The service station industry is not showing any positive upturn with June 2018 being the worst month over the last 12 months, the survey showed.


“We must remember that service stations fill a dual purpose of various retail activities and of filling up with fuel,” explains Holmes. “The drop in visits is therefore indicative of people not requiring as much fuel as often and also in part that the retail activity at these service stations has decreased.”

BP, Sasol and Total experienced the biggest declines, while Engen (which hosts Woolworths Foodstops) saw the smallest drop.


Visits to shopping centres in the first half of 2018 were 5% lower than the last half of 2017, and this decline holds true even when the effect of December Christmas shopping and January retail slowdown is excluded from the comparison, Lightstone said.

“The decline has not been equally severe at all shopping centres with Fourways Mall experiencing the biggest decline, possibly due to renovations at the centre.” 


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