The Czech retail sector not including cars recorded a 5.6-percent year-on-year rise in revenues in 2017, according to official figures released this week. Internet and mail order sales were the biggest single drivers of that increase, growing by more than 21 percent.
Czech consumers’ readiness to spend is pushing the country’s economy along and economists say the trend is likely to continue, with retail earnings expected to grow by another 5 percent this year.
Generali Investments economist Radomír Jáč told Czech Television that falling unemployment and accelerated wage growth were proving a boon to Czech consumers.
This was reflected in healthy sales toward the end of last year. Komerční banka economist Monika Junicke told Czech Television that it had been a generous Christmas in terms of retailers’ turnover.
Ms. Junicke said that sales had been up in virtually all areas, with Czechs particularly willing to shell out on non-essential goods, clothing and electronics.
ČSOB economist Petr Dufek said it had in fact been the most generous festive season in Czech history, with December’s sales reaffirming the willingness to spend seen in previous months. This readiness stems from Czechs’ confidence in their financial situations and the absence of a fear of unemployment, Mr. Dufek said.
By contrast, Jakub Červenka of Raiffeisenbank said Christmas turnover had not lived up to the great expectations.
Mr. Červenka said retailers had enjoyed the best seasonal revenues in November, with many consumers keen to avoid December’s traditional shopping madness and holdups in supply.
Revenues for foodstuffs climbed by 2 percent in 2017, compared to 8.4 percent for non-food items. Fuel sales were 5 percent higher than the previous year.
Shops of 50 square metres or less, which are often to be found in small villages, did well last year. This was despite the fact that almost 6,000 – close to a third of the original total number – have closed in the last two decades.
Economists expect that Czech consumers’ interest in buying new cars will undergo a downturn.
Jiří Cihlář of Next Finance told Czech Television that while carmakers in the Czech Republic were still turning out vehicles at a fast clip, showroom shopping fever is slowly coming to an end.
Mr. Cihlář said that trends in the car sector foreshadowed those in retail in general, adding that revenues on auto sales should grow by over 6 percent in the first half of 2018 before slowing markedly in the second six months of the year.