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January 14, 2002

SOUTH AFRICA: Clothing Retailers Look Vulnerable

Despite strong 2001 holiday sales - prompted by panic buying on the collapse of the rand - South Africa's clothing sector is vulnerable to the rising prices and slow-growing economy that are forecast to characterise 2002. By the second half of the year, the rand could push up costs that retailers cannot pass on to their customers, which means clothing sellers will be faced with the choice of squeezing already wafer-thin margins or increasing prices and seeing sales decline.

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