Lithuanian retail sales grew an unadjusted 9.8% y/y in January, according to data released by Statistics Lithuania on February 28.
The reading marks a clear acceleration on the 6.6% expansion seen the previous month, and keeps shop turnover firmly on the growth track that began in 2015.
Sales grew 8.5% on the year on a working-day adjusted basis, faster than the 5% growth in December. Month to month, sales expanded an adjusted 0.9%, but fell 21.7% in unadjusted terms, the huge difference the effect of the Christmas season.
As has been the case for months, turnover is being driven by an improving labour market and growing income. Consumption is a major plank in maintaining economic growth as Lithuania pushes to find new export markets to replace weakened sales to Russia.
Consumption's persistence may be just offer enough momentum to put the economy on a stronger path. Economic expansion came in at 2.2% in 2016, with growth rising to 3% in the final quarter, driven by household consumption.
Lithuanian GDP is likely to grow 2.9% in 2017 with growth aided by the return of investment projects co-financed by the EU, the European Commission noted in mid-February. Rebound in investment is set to compensate a slowdown in consumption growth, the EU executive predicts.
January’s annual growth in shop turnover was largely driven by the sale of motor fuels, which expanded 23.5% on unadjusted basis, while sales of food, alcoholic beverages and tobacco products grew 2.9%. Retail sales via mail order houses or the internet boomed 39%. No retail sector recorded contraction in annual terms in January.