E-tolls cost Shoprite R4 million

South African retailer Shoprite says that the direct e-toll cost for its own fleet is R4 million, which will raise the price of food for the Gauteng consumer.

Earlier this month, listed transport logistics and mobility group, Super Group also highlighted the impact of e-tolls on its business.

Economists have warned against the negative effect that e-tolls on consumers, while debt management firm, Debt Rescue, last month reported a sharp increase in the number of deeply indebted consumers seeking help in the form of debt review, following the introduction of toll fees.

Super Group CEO, Peter Mumford warned against Sanral’s e-toll system cost implications, when he announced the group’s financial results on 10 February.

He told Moneyweb: “It’s fairly significant. Like most of our competitors we can pass on statutory costs on a lot of contracts. Where we can’t it is significant, the costs themselves are significant and so is the administrative burden involved in managing the whole e-toll accounting.”

In results for the 6 months ended December 2013, Shoprite said that turnover increased 9.7% to R51 billion.

Trading profit was up 7.5% to R2.7 billion, while headline earnings per share rose 7.9% to 341.0 cents.

The group declared a dividend per share of 132 cents (2012: 123 cents), showing an increase of 7.3%.

Shoprite pointed to a difficult trading environment. “Middle- and lower-income consumers, many of them overburdened with debt, are struggling to make ends meet due to spiraling increases in their living expenses and transport costs.

“The consequent lack of disposable income has a severe impact on the retail environment in which competition for the consumer’s rand has greatly intensified in the six months under review,” it said.

The group’s ticketing business, Computicket is undertaking an extensive systems upgrade “to create a state-of-the-art booking engine, which will greatly increase its agility in handling extreme peaks in ticket demand”.

Last week, Sanral noted that in excess of 1.2 million e-tags had been registered for e-tolls, with between 30,000 and 45,000 people registering on Sanral’s system each week.

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E-tolls cost Shoprite R4 million