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Retail sales up by 12% y-o-y in December


Retail sales at current prices grew by 12% y-o-y in December, a marked acceleration compared with the previous month, according to data from the Central Statistical Office (GUS). The result was well ahead of market expectations, which were just below 10% y-o-y.

In comparison with the corresponding period of 2009, sales were up in all the main branch specialisations except sales of newspapers, books and other items at specialist stores, which dropped by 9.4% y-o-y. The highest increase was noted in sales of motor vehicles, motor cycles and parts (up by 38.6% y-o-y), followed by furniture, radio, TV and household appliances (up by 21.8% y-o-y). Robust double-digit growth also occurred in sales of pharmaceuticals, cosmetics and orthopaedic equipment (up by 17.6% y-o-y), fuels (up by 17.2% y-o-y), other sales at non-specialist retail stores (up by 16% y-o-y), and textiles, clothing and footwear (up by 14.3% y-o-y). By contrast, sales of food, beverages and tobacco products were up by a more modest 4.2% y-o-y.

In 2010 as a whole retail sales at current prices climbed by 5.5%.

The high growth in retail sales in December is not surprising. It reflects improving economic conditions and a higher number of working days, but above all it was driven by consumers bringing forward purchases ahead of the increase in VAT rates and the introduction of less favourable VAT treatment of passenger cars converted into delivery vans effective from 1 January 2011 (sales of motor vehicles, motor cycles and parts were up by more than 40% y-o-y in real terms in December, though several other sectors also posted high double-digit increases last month). Although this front-loading of consumer spending could have a negative impact on sales figures in Q1, we forecast that in 2011 as a whole retail sales at current prices will accelerate to 8.1%, mainly thanks to an anticipated clearer improvement on the labour market.

Paweł Sionko
Senior Economist
PMR Publications

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