Estonian retail sales grew 3% y/y at constant prices in March, according to data released by Statistics Estonia on April 29, the weakest result in close to two years.
Growth has been losing pace for four consecutive months now, as it retreats from the 10% expansion seen in December. March also marked the first month since July 2014, when retail sales grew slower than 5%. This points to faltering consumer confidence, which has long been propping up the retail sales sector on the back of a tightening labour market.
That's likely bad news given that the stuttering Eurozone recovery has made consumption a vital element in economic growth across CEE. At the same time, on a monthly basis sales fared well, growing 12%. Nominal sales in March came in at €494mn.
Pharmaceuticals and cosmetics sales surged 22% on the year, while sales of manufactured goods increased 6%. Sales in grocery stores increased only 1%, compared to 7% growth in February. Sales of automotive fuel grew 2% in March, reversing on a fall of about 8% the previous month.