Where South Africans spend their money in 2023

South Africans are increasingly spending their money on groceries, travel, and eating out post-Covid, according to a study by Discovery Bank and Visa from 2019 to 2022.

Discovery Bank and Visa collaborated to produce the SpendTrend 23 report by analysing consumer spending habits before, during and after the pandemic.

Data was collected from Discovery Bank clients and over 350 million bank cards from Visa. Over 20 billion transactions were used to produce the report.

The report focused on three areas:

  1. How much people spend.
  2. Where people spend their money.
  3. How people spend their money.

Consumer spending decreased by over 10% during the pandemic but quickly rebounded, with spending in 2022 being 22% greater than pre-pandemic levels in 2019.

Discovery Bank CEO Hylton Kallner pointed out that South Africa’s economy and consumers are “particularly resilient and active”. Further, this shows that “South Africa is rebounding, despite ongoing challenges”.

Where South Africans spend their money

South Africans spend most of their money on groceries, travel, and eating out.

Spending in these areas was accelerated by the pandemic. This was primarily due to the latent demand for travel and eating out alongside the perennial need for groceries.


Groceries is the largest category of spending for South Africans across all income segments.

Spending increased on groceries partly due to the increase in food prices, with food inflation reaching 12% at the end of 2022. The basket size remained similar to what it was pre-pandemic.

Food inflation impacted the poorest in South Africa the most, with this group spending 50% more on groceries now than pre-pandemic.

Affluent customers are better able to cope with rising prices due to the flexibility they have in choosing where they buy groceries and what they buy.

Source: VisaNet data sample, 2019-2022


Spending on travel rocketed post-pandemic after being virtually wiped out, with average travel spending increasing by nearly 10% in South Africa.

This was due to the phenomenon of “revenge travel”, where pent-up demand was unleashed when countries alleviated their lockdown measures.

South Africans are increasingly travelling within South Africa.

Source: VisaNet data sample, 2019-2022

Eating out

Across the board, South Africans eat out more than they did pre-pandemic.

This is partly due to latent demand being released after the pandemic ended but is also due to increased load-shedding preventing South Africans from cooking at home.

Spending on eating out and takeaways are up 50% in South Africa versus pre-pandemic levels.

Discovery Bank and Visa expect these trends to continue as they have shown sustained growth post-pandemic.

On the other hand, spending on home improvements proved to be a flash in the pan and has moderated to pre-pandemic levels.

This forms the basis of the ‘new normal’ for South African consumers. Businesses should position themselves to capitalise on these trends as they will continue for the foreseeable future.


Top JSE indices