Slovak retail sales edged down by 0.2% y/y in August 2013, reversing a 1.9% y/y rise in July and snapping a four-month growing streak, data from the country’s statistics office showed.
Retail sales returned to growth in April, after posting annual declines in 10 consecutive months. The decline in August was affected mostly by a 3.3% drop in sales of information and communication equipment, a 1.8% fall in sales of “other goods” in specialised stores, and a 1.1% decline in fuel sales.
On a seasonally adjusted monthly basis, August’s retail sales grew 0.2%, following a 0.7% growth in July.
For the first eight months of 2013, retail sales rose 0.2% y/y.
IntelliNews comment: Slovak retail sales fell by 1% last year to EUR 17.93bn, despite the country’s solid economic recovery during the first half of the year, as persistent high jobless rates and falling real wages dampened household consumption. Retail sales have recovered slightly this year, which is evidenced by the 0.2% growth for the first eight months of the year, thanks to higher real wages, which rose by 1% in H1 for the first time in more than two years. The improvement trend in retail sales is likely to continue, given the fact that household consumption is seen expanding this year (by 0.5% by the finance ministry and by 1% by the central bank). Household consumption, which has been a major drawback to Slovakia’s export-driven economic growth in 2010-12, increased by 1.5% y/y in Q2, posting its first annual growth since Q3 2009, supported by improved consumer confidence and falling inflation. However, the sluggish economy and the persisting high level of unemployment do not support a strong recovery of retail sales in the near term.
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