Estonian retail sales managed growth of 1% y/y in constant prices in December, according to data released by Statistics Estonia on January 30.
The reading sees the sector return to growth after a fall of 1% y/y in November, the first contraction in retail sales in more than four years. In monthly terms, retail sales jumped 18%, a typical effect of increased shopping activity during the Christmas season and turn-of-the-year sales.
Growing retail sales come in the overall context of an economy in positive shape, with expanding wages helping consumption drive economic growth.
GDP expanded 4.2% y/y in the third quarter. The Estonian economy is expected to grow 4.2% in 2017, according to the most recent prediction by Swedbank. The outlook from the European Commission puts growth at 4.4%. GDP data for the fourth quarter will be released on February 28.
The annual expansion of retail sales came on the back of turnover growing 7% y/y in stores selling manufactured goods, 26% y/y in stores selling via mail order or the internet, and 13% y/y in stores selling household goods and appliances, hardware and building materials.
On the other hand, turnover in grocery stores fell 3% on the year because of growing food prices, Statistics Estonia noted. Sales of automotive fuels did not change on annual terms.