Profile of informal microenterprises in the retail sector of South Africa
01 May 2004
Township Studies Librarian Two
The importance of the informal retail sector is highlighted by the fact that its sales amounted to more than R38 billion in 2003. The reality that the informal retailer acts as an important delivery channel of goods to consumers is increasingly being acknowledged by manufacturers and wholesalers. The informal retail sector can also play a key role in unleashing entrepreneurial spirit in South Africa. Knowing the dynamics of the informal retail sector may contribute towards an increased awareness of this important but unrecorded sector of the economy. This article is aimed at highlighting the profile and functioning of the informal retail trade sector in South Africa with regard to aspects such as its size, owner and household engagement, assortment of merchandise, relationship with suppliers and constraints encountered. The analysis is based on a national survey among 481 informal retailers in which three types of informal retailers were distinguished, namely: hawkers, spazas and township general dealers.