Serbian retail sales growth accelerates after public sector wage increase

Serbian retail sales growth accelerates after public sector wage increase
By Ivana Jovanovic in Belgrade April 1, 2016

Serbia’s statistics office reported an increase in retail trade turnover in February, after civil servants received a modest pay rise.

A year after cutting public sector wages and pensions as part of its fiscal consolidation efforts, Serbia's government managed to get approval from the International Monetary Fund in November 2015 to make a small increase as of January 2016. As civil servants and pensioners received payments at the higher rate for the first time in February, the increase affected household consumption and thus improved retail sales during the month.

Serbia's retail trade turnover (excluding motor vehicles and motorcycles) grew by a real 11.8% y/y in February, accelerating from 6.1% a month earlier, data from the country's statistics office showed. As a result, sales climbed 8.9% in the first two months of 2016 against the same period in 2015.

The annual growth in sales of motor fuels accelerated to 8.6% in February while retail sales of food, beverages and tobacco products increased by a real 11.1%.

In February, sales of non-food products except automotive fuel increased 14.2% y/y.
However, on a monthly basis, turnover of retail trade increased by 0.4%, the statistical office said.

Previously, the cut in public wages and salaries was reflected in a fall in retail sales in February 2015, which deepened further in March.