Regulatory avoidance harms informal workers

PREMIUM

Small informal retailers are an ubiquitous feature of any developing country's urban landscape. Known as spaza shops in South Africa, they are an important, even vital, component in townships. Numbering over 100,000 across the nation, they make critical contributions to local food security, self-employment and community cohesion.

Over the past decade, the sector has undergone extensive change. A new class of traders has emerged, who are often – but not always – foreigners. For this reason, this changing character of South Africa’s spaza sector has become associated with chauvinistic and xenophobic portrayals of immigrant shopkeepers...

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