South Africa's retail sales growth expanded more than expected in November as consumer demand improved, further reducing lingering hopes that the central bank might cut its key repo rate on Thursday.

Sales grew by 7.8 percent year-on-year in November at constant prices, compared with an upwardly revised 6.5 percent increase in October, Statistics South Africa said.

Growth in the three months from September to November was 6.8 percent, compared with the same period a year ago.

Economists in a Reuters poll had expected retail sales to expand by 6.8 percent on the year as domestic demand picks up.

Retail sales have steadily recovered after consumers' pockets were hit by a recession in 2009 and analysts say there is some evidence that previous cuts from the South African Reserve Bank are having an impact.

The bank has axed rates by 650 basis points since December 2008 to a record low of 5.5 percent.

The higher-than-expected number puts a damper on any lingering hopes of another cut when the bank announces its rates decision on Thursday.

No-one is going to be thinking that the SARB needs to cut rates now, Razia Khan, Africa head of Research at Standard Charted, said.

November, right before the festive season, typically sees some uplift to retail sales but a rise of this magnitude will have been unexpected. This is a full percentage point higher than the consensus expectation and may finally signal the return of the South African consumer, she added.

The rand weakened slightly to 6.95 against the dollar at 1120 GMT from 6.9460 before the data was released at 1100 GMT. The yield on the benchmark 2015 government bond was at 7.665 percent from 7.655 percent.