Appreciating scale: business turnover in R200 notes

The South African formal business sector generated R2,17 trillion in turnover in the third quarter of 2016. To put this into perspective, imagine if you drew this amount in R200 bills and went about giving away a bill every second. It would take 344 years to get rid of all the bills in this way!

This seems like an incredible amount of money, until you realise that the businesses had to contend with costs of R2,12 trillion over the same period, according to Stats SA’s Quarterly Financial Statistics (QFS) report that was published in December 20161. Taking these costs (as well as inventories) into account, the businesses generated a profit of R205 billion. It would take you 33 years to give this amount of money away if you did so by handing out a R200 bill every second.

Think again of the R2,17 trillion in turnover. The trade industry, which includes all supermarkets and stores, generated a third of this amount. The manufacturing industry contributed 29%, followed by business services (12%), transport (9%), mining (7%), construction (5%), electricity (3%) and personal services (2%).

The formal business sector2 made R44,6 billion more turnover in the September 2016 quarter compared with the June 2016 quarter, an increase of 2,1%. That’s an additional 223 million R200 bills, for those of you who were about to reach for the calculator.

Seven of the eight industries surveyed raised the amount of turnover they generated from the June quarter to the September quarter. The electricity, gas and water supply industry raised its turnover by 17,5%, mainly as a result of increased electricity tariffs and a rise in electricity usage during the winter months of July and August.


Mining was the only industry to have experienced a fall in turnover, mainly as a result of a fall in platinum and diamond sales.

For more information, download the latest Quarterly Financial Statistics (QFS) report here.

2 In the QFS, the formal business sector includes private businesses and public corporations, but excludes agriculture, financial intermediation, insurance and government institutions.