South Africa’s Manufacturing Sector Holds Steady Amidst Shifting Market Forces

  • The seasonally adjusted Absa Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) for July remained stable at 47.3 index points, indicating the manufacturing sector in South Africa is under pressure.
  • Despite the overall stability, significant changes were observed in key subcomponents: new sales orders declined faster, business activity showed resilience, and employment levels decreased.
  • The implications of the July PMI data may lead to potential price adjustments and promotional offers for consumers, increased pressure on businesses to optimize operations, and cautious lending and credit practices by financial institutions.
South Africa's Manufacturing Sector

The seasonally adjusted Absa Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) for July has been released, revealing intriguing insights into the state of South Africa’s manufacturing sector. While the overall PMI remained stable, there have been significant shifts in some of the key subcomponents. In this article, we delve into the latest data to understand the implications for consumers and businesses.

Overview of the July Absa PMI

The Absa PMI, a reliable gauge of economic activity in the country’s manufacturing sector, stood at 47.3 index points in July. Although it experienced a marginal decrease compared to the previous month’s reading of 47.6, this level suggests that the sector remains under pressure.

Key Subcomponents Analysis

The stability of the overall PMI masks noteworthy changes in some of the critical subcomponents that shape the manufacturing landscape:

New Sales Orders – One of the most vital components of the PMI, new sales orders, declined at a faster rate in July, dropping to 42.1 index points from 43.9 in June. This signals a potential decrease in consumer demand, which could have far-reaching implications for businesses operating in the sector.

Business Activity – Despite the overall decline in new sales orders, business activity showed resilience, improving slightly to 50.2 index points in July, compared to 49.8 in June. This indicates that manufacturers are still finding ways to maintain their production levels despite the challenges posed by declining sales orders.

Employment – The employment subcomponent painted a concerning picture, falling to 41.4 index points from 43.2 in June. This suggests that manufacturers are reducing their workforce, likely due to the ongoing economic uncertainty and subdued demand.

Supplier Deliveries – Supplier deliveries have increased in July, reaching 56.2 index points, compared to 54.4 in June. While an uptick in deliveries might imply efficient supply chain management, it could also be a result of low demand and reduced production rates.

Inventories – Inventories also recorded a decrease, dropping to 46.5 index points in July, indicating manufacturers’ efforts to control stock levels amid challenging market conditions.

Implications for Consumers and Businesses

The July Absa PMI data has several implications for various stakeholders:

Consumers – The decline in new sales orders may lead to potential price adjustments and promotional offers as businesses strive to attract consumers in a highly competitive market. Savvy shoppers should monitor these developments to capitalize on potential cost savings.

Businesses – With employment levels on the decline, businesses may face increasing pressure to optimize their operations and reduce costs. Manufacturers could consider adopting innovative technologies to streamline production processes while still maintaining product quality.

Financial Services and Credit – The slowdown in manufacturing and declining employment may influence lending and credit availability. Financial institutions might exercise caution when extending credit to businesses in the manufacturing sector, leading to potentially tighter lending conditions.

Insurance and Personal Finance – As manufacturers adapt to changing market conditions, they may reassess their insurance coverage and financial strategies. This could impact premiums and terms for various insurance products, prompting individuals and businesses to reassess their coverage needs.

Banking and Lending – A challenging economic environment may lead to cautious lending practices by banks, potentially affecting loan availability and interest rates. Consumers and businesses seeking financing should monitor these developments closely.


The July Absa PMI results indicate a mixed picture for South Africa’s manufacturing sector, with the overall index showing marginal stability while concealing significant changes in crucial subcomponents. Businesses and consumers should remain vigilant about these developments, as they can have far-reaching implications for the economy and various financial sectors. Understanding the dynamics of the PMI can empower individuals and businesses to make informed decisions, weathering economic challenges, and leveraging opportunities in the ever-evolving market.

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