Poland’s retail sales sink less than expected in November despite lockdown

Poland’s retail sales sink less than expected in November despite lockdown
Poland's retail sector suffered the biggest declines (marked in purple on the chart) in April through May during the first lockdown.
By bne IntelliNews January 4, 2021

Polish retail sales declined 5.3% y/y in constant prices in November, versus a fall of 2.9% y/y the preceding month, the statistics office GUS said on December 21.

The fall is clearly an effect of the tighter restrictions reintroduced in November to contain the second wave of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Still, given the lockdown, the fall was surprisingly small, Erste notes.

All nine main retail segments suffered y/y turnover falls in constant prices in November, the breakdown of the data shows.

Turnover in the textiles, clothing, and shoes segment fell the most, crashing 21.9% y/y (compared to a 9.7% decline y/y in October), a direct effect of the restrictions that mandated closure of fashion stores as non-essential.

Poles’ reduced mobility also led to fuel sales retreating 14.7% y/y in November (October -13.4% y/y). Car sales slid 9.6% y/y (October -8% y/y).

Sales of food, drinks, and tobacco products held up relatively well, retreating just 2.9% y/y in November (-2% y/y in October).

In monthly terms, retail sales also fell 5.3% in constant prices in November after growing 2.1% m/m the preceding month. Seasonally adjusted, retail sales slid 0.6% m/m in November (+2.1% m/m in October).

In monthly terms in current prices, turnover declined 5.4%; that followed an expansion of 2.3% m/m in October.

The outlook for the retail sector remains moderately optimistic. “The recently announced next round of stricter measures [which came] into force after Christmas and will last until mid-January should not have a strong negative effect on December figures,” Erste noted.

“Recent months indicate that the successive waves of the pandemic will have a smaller impact on consumer spending. Essentially, consumption will remain one of the pillars of the economy in 2021,” Bank Millennium said.

Overall, Poland’s economy should hold up well in the fourth quarter, Erste also notes. GDP will only contract 2% y/y in the fourth quarter, leading to a GDP fall of just 2.5% over the entire 2020, the Austrian bank predicts.