RETAIL sales in Slovakia have now been falling for several years, and their pace of decline grew even steeper in September 2012. Sales fell by 1.7 percent in September year-on-year, while the August decline was 0.9 percent, the Slovak Statistics Office reported in early November. The September trend confirmed the medium-term negative trend. The last time Slovakia registered a year-on-year increase in retail sales was May this year, the SITA newswire wrote.
Retail sales in September totalled €1.525 billion. That brought total retail sales during the first three quarters of 2012 to €13.1 billion, a drop of 0.3 percent compared with the same period in 2011. When compared month-on-month, sales in September decreased by 0.4 percent.
Retail sales have yet to revive since commencing their fall in late 2008, according to Andrej Arady, an analyst with VÚB Banka.
“Consumption by households has been depressed in particular by high unemployment limiting incomes and willingness to spend money,” Arady told SITA, pointing to a near-doubling in the unemployment rate since 2008. Moreover, the situation on the labour market continues to worsen. “In the next few months sales will increase in absolute numbers, especially due to Christmas shopping. However, the low confidence of households in the economy should continue to curb sales in year-on-year comparisons.”
Retail sales in Slovakia have been declining for more than three years. The sector has suffered from the effects of the economic crisis as well as so-called shopping tourism, in which Slovaks travel to neighbouring countries to take advantage of lower prices. This resulted in a year-on-year drop in retail sales of over 10 percent in 2009. Retail sales fell again in the following two years, in 2011 by 2.8 percent. Continuing weak consumer demand suggests that there is little imminent prospect of a revival in retail sales.