Stats SA released their Gross Domestic Product (GDP) report for the fourth quarter of 2020 (October–December) this week. This data now completes the picture for 2020 and provides the first official estimate of the magnitude of the GDP decline due to the Covid-19 health crisis and the associated lockdown restrictions. After GDP surged back in 2020 Q3 after the second quarter collapse, we expected a sharp moderation in the fourth quarter. However, the positive growth recorded in the third and fourth quarters was not enough to offset the devastating impact of the pandemic in the second quarter when lockdown restrictions were at their most stringent. Economic activity for the entire year decreased by 7,0% in 2020 compared with 2019, causing the biggest annual fall in economic activity the country has seen since at least 1946. During the 2008/09 global financial crisis, the economy shrank by (only) 1,5% in 2009.
According to Stats SA, in real terms (taking account of inflation), the economy is now at about the same size as it was in 2012 (constant 2010 prices).