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The retailing industry forms part of the service industry, which has been growing rapidly in Sisonke District. The Service industry saw a growth of about 50% between 1996 and 2010, and growth of a further 20% is expected by 2015. The service industry is thus a noteworthy economic driver. Within the industry, retailing is one of the subsectors that was seen to have the highest levels of growth in the last decade and a half.

Growth in jobs in the services industry was also seen to be led by the retailing trade. Along with wholesale, retail trade reflected a growth in jobs from 1066 in 1996, to more than 2100 jobs in 2010 – an increase of more than 100%.

The success of the retail industry is to some extent accredited to the fact that many towns in the district are not much more than trading and services centres. Ixopo and Highflats for example, are typical commercial nodes. The types of products sold there are predominantly to serve the rural population and are thus mainly perishable and processed products, furniture, clothing and footwear, and other necessity items.These are products characteristic of the retail industry.