South Africans report falling incomes and strained finances for 2021

South Africans are reporting increasing financial strain from the COVID-19 pandemic, with the latest survey from GeoPoll finding over 72 per cent have suffered income falls since June, leading to reduced online spending, mobile money use, and spending on non-essential items.

In a survey of 3,000 respondents across six countries, including Mozambique, DRC, Ivory Coast, Nigeria and Kenya, as well as South Africa, GeoPoll found that few respondents expected an instant financial recovery from the pandemic, with 38 per cent of South Africans predicting the financial effects will last into 2022.

“We are seeing a comprehensive picture of financial strain in our end-year poll, with 44 per cent of respondents reporting that finance is now their biggest challenge and 69 per cent reporting they are now more concerned over meeting their expenses than they were in June,” said Roxana Elliott, VP of Marketing for GeoPoll.

The survey found widespread hope that 2021 would bring at least some relief to personal finances. But caution now dominates, with almost half of the South African respondents, at 47 per cent, saying they expected to spend much less in the holidays, while a further 21 per cent expected to spend a bit less.

The financial pressure is also causing rising levels of emotional distress, with 52 per cent reporting they are feeling worse emotionally than a year ago. This emotional deterioration has been higher than in South Africa than in most of the other countries polled, with 43 per cent reporting declines in their emotional wellbeing across all of the six countries surveyed.

“South Africa has suffered more than all of the other five countries in its levels of infections and deaths, which is bound to have created a greater financial and emotional toll. However, it also means that South Africans are more ready to embrace vaccination,” said Roxana.

Across all the countries polled, 42 per cent said they would definitely get a Covid-19 vaccination as soon as they could, but in South Africa 52 per cent reported they definitely would and 17 per cent that they probably would.

However, South Africans are reporting a wide range of expectations on when life will return to normal. It never will, say 9 per cent; it will take until 2022 or later, say another 9 per cent; while for 24 per cent, it already has.