William Malcolm

Czech Retail Sales Slow In September

Retail sales in the Czech Republic slowed down in September, but according to the Czech Statistical Office (CSO), the trend in retail trade has already returned to the same growth rate as before the crisis after the easing of anti-coronavirus measures. The September increase in retail sales by 3.4 percent was slightly below analysts’ expectations. According to them, household demand is slowing down due to rising energy prices and other housing costs, as well as fears of another wave of pandemics.

The growth rate of retail sales in September slowed from 4.6 percent in August. Sales increased for the seventh time in a row. They grew most significantly again in the online and mail order business, while food sales decreased slightly. Seasonally adjusted sales fell 0.3 percent from August, according to information released today CZSO.

The data do not include sales and repairs of motor vehicles, which fell by 6.8 percent in September compared to last year. According to UniCredit Bank economist Jiří Pour, this was significantly affected by the shortage of finished cars and parts not only on the domestic market caused by problems in global supply chains.

According to analysts, the reduction in household demand is also due to the limited supply of imported goods in connection with problems in maritime transport. He sees the decline in fuel sales as the impact of rising prices at petrol stations. Figures for retail, according to ČSOB economist Petr Dufek, show that there is virtually no deferred demand for anti-epidemic closures. He does not expect a change in the last two months of the year.

The mood among consumers slowed down in the autumn, said Raiffeisenbank analyst David Vagenknecht. Thanks to the good situation on the labor market and solid wage growth, it does not expect the trend to change worse in retail. “However, the brisk pace of the Czech National Bank’s interest rate increase has the potential to cool household consumption through rising credit prices,” he added.

Retail stores were not restricted by measures against the spread of coronavirus this year or last September. Former government anti-epidemic restrictions have affected most non-food stores, especially clothing, footwear and leather goods stores, CZSO representatives told reporters today. Some traders thus moved from brick-and-mortar stores to the Internet, where sales during the pandemic, on the other hand, strengthened significantly. The biggest growth, by more than 50 percent, was achieved by e-shops last April.

Fuel sales fell during the period of restrictions due to reduced population movements. On the other hand, government measures did not affect food demand much.