May 13, 2020 / 11:26 AM / 13 days ago

South Africa lists clothing allowed for sale as lockdown eases

JOHANNESBURG, May 13 (Reuters) - South Africa’s government has published a more detailed list of clothing that can be sold in a first phase of easing its lockdown, giving relief to a clothing industry starved of sales.

The country took its first shaky steps on May 1 towards rolling back one of the world’s strictest COVID-19 lockdowns, seeking a balance between containing the disease and providing much-needed relief for the economy.

In April the government had said clothing retailers will be allowed to sell winter and baby clothes and bedding, without clarifying what falls under those categories, causing confusion.

Under regulations published late on Tuesday, the permitted categories include all children’s and baby wear, maternity wear, adult sleepwear, underwear and footwear, outwear items such as exercise apparel and winter clothes such as knitwear.

Minister of Trade, Industry and Competition, Ebrahim Patel said the manufacturing and retail sector had been through “a very difficult time” and the resumption of clothing sales would help greater production and commerce in the sector.

The list was welcomed by the National Clothing Retail Federation, which includes TFG, Mr Price, Truworths, Woolworths, Pick n Pay Clothing and Queenspark, and by the Apparel & Textiles Association of South Africa (ATASA).

ATASA Deputy Chairperson Herman Pillay said the move would help its manufacturer members recover from lockdown and give “employees the opportunity to be gainfully employed yet again.”

The announcement followed consultations between Patel’s ministry and clothing, textile and footwear industry leaders.

But clothing and general merchandise retailer Pepkor said that while it initially expects reasonable sales, levels are expected to taper off due to increased unemployment as a result of the impact of the coronavirus on companies. (Reporting by Nqobile Dludla, Editing by William Maclean)

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