South African small independent retailers' knowledge of the Consumer Protection Act
Van Schalkwyk, Pieter Jacobus
Bevan-Dye, Ayesha Lian
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Following the first democratic elections in 1994, the South African government has introduced several laws regulating the country's business environment for the purpose of protecting consumers from unethical business practices. One such law is the Consumer Protection Act (68 of 2008) (CPA). The CPA was implemented for a number of reasons,including to conform to international best practices regarding consumer law, to replace the existing but out-dated laws, and, most importantly, to provide protection to vulnerable consumers who in the past were exposed to unethical business practices as a result of the antecedent of apartheid. Despite the good intentions of the CPA, the law will be of little value to consumers if retailers do not generally know and apply it. Therefore, a study was undertaken to measure the perceived and actual knowledge of the CPA amongst retailers. A self-administered questionnaire was used to measure perceived and actual knowledge of the CPA amongst a sample of 97 small independent retailers located in 10 shopping malls in the Vaal Triangle area of South Africa. The findings indicate that whilst small independent retailers consider themselves well-informed regarding the CPA, their actual knowledge of the Act is lacking. This suggests that a number of small independent retailers in South Africa may be conducting their business in a manner that does not comply with the CPA and, therefore, is not in the best interests of consumers.