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Consumers remain sensitive to debt

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South African consumers’ biggest concern remains servicing their debts, credit solutions firm MBD said on Wednesday.

“The pressure on consumer finances was intensified by amongst others prolonged labour strikes, some substantial price increases, and slow employment growth negatively influencing income levels,” MBD said in a statement.

It said the latest Consumer Financial Vulnerability Index (CFVI) was virtually unchanged during the fourth quarter of 2014, and remained in the “mildly exposed” category.

The CFVI measures the state of consumers’ cash flow.

The overall index declined to 51.2 points in the fourth quarter of 2014, compared to 51.4 points in the previous quarter.

“Despite some lower index values, consumers remained feeling mildly exposed with regard to their income, expenditure and savings.

“Debt obligations on the other hand continued to place significant pressure on consumer finances, as consumers continued to feel very exposed in terms of their debt servicing capabilities during Q4 2014.”

Although 2014 proved to be another difficult year for the average South African, optimism and positive changes outweighed the negatives.

This caused consumers to generally perceive their cash flow to be in a slightly better position in the second half of the year than during the first half, and far more so when compared to 2013.

The CFVI research was conducted by the Bureau of Market Research and the department of taxation at Unisa on behalf of MBD. SAPA

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