March retail sales growth lower than forecast at 1.8 percent

Retail sales grew by 1.8 percent in March 2019, compared to growth of 8.8 percent in March 2018, while analysts had predicted 2.7 percent, the statistics office announced on Tuesday.

Easter falling later in this year has led to muted sales growth in March, compared to last year, when the pre-Easter shopping season fell in March. This led to a 10.4 percent drop in sales of food, beverages and tobacco products. The sales of large format stores also dropped compared to last March, but by a smaller margin (1.3 percent).

Other sectors, such as the automotive industry, saw sales rise by 11.3 percent while electronics sales shot up by 20.5 percent.

The statistics office noted that “in the period of January-March 2012, retail sales were 4.1 percent higher year-on-year, against a growth of 8.1 percent in 2018.”

It is now a year since limits were put on sales on Sundays. From March-December 2018, larger shops could only open a maximum of two Sundays per month. In January 2019 the ban on trading was extended to all but one Sunday per month. A study by PKO Bank Polski suggested that the extra Sunday of trade limitation could have a 1.3 percentage-point affect on sales.