Retailers urge ESKOM to stop Weekend Power Cuts

The National Clothing Retail Federation of South Africa has urged Eskom to review its implementation of rotational load shedding over weekends and to engage business more actively in limiting the fallout from the energy crisis. As the organisation representing substantial taxpayers with annual sales of more than R50bn and employers of more than 80 000 people, the federation called on government to share the turnaround plan for Eskom as soon as possible. Its members are Edcon, Mr Price, Queenspark, TFG (The Foschini Group), Truworths and Woolworths.

“The retail sector, as a major GDP contributor and job creator, will not be able to optimise its economic benefit especially when adversely affected over the peak trading season, “ said Michael Lawrence, executive editor of the federation. “The continued absence of any turnaround plan for Eskom – and that after almost a decade of intermittent power outages – is serving only to further undermine a weakened economy and postpone prospects for a recovery. “The statement by the minister of public enterprises that Eskom must fix Eskom and the whole country should be patient while facing a tough two years over electricity supply, regrettably suggests government, as the sole shareholder, is unwilling to entertain any private sector contributions to potential solutions to the energy crisis and Eskom’s operational issues.”

Delaying sharing of a turnaround plan for Eskom will cost South Africa dearly for years to come, according to Lawrence. “Power outages over consecutive weekends have had a severe impact on the retail sector as a whole, which contributes some R650bn a year to the economy and is a major collector of the more than R220bn paid annually in value added tax to government,” he said. “The effect is not only on federation members. Local manufacturers on whom federation members rely for a competitive edge, because of their ability to produce the latest fashion quickly, are losing production time and materials through waste resulting from disruptions.”

Mall owners are having to contend with lower turnovers by tenants and reduced parking income. “Opting for power outages right through the peak shopping season will inevitably mean lower trading revenues, which in turn will translate into lower value added and other taxes paid to government and further constrain its ability to address priority needs in housing, health care and education,” he concluded.

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