April sales up as taxman prepares shops tax: stats office

As taxmen consider the reintroduction of the suspended sales tax, retail sales in April grew by 13.9 percent, compared to last year, boosted by the pre-Easter shopping system according to Statistics Poland data released on Thursday.

The increase in sales was far above analyst expectations. A Polish Press Agency consensus forecast had predicted sales growth of 8.3 percent.

The market segments where the fastest growth was noted were food, drink and tobacco (21.5 percent), and in non-specialised sales, which includes large supermarkets (22.0 percent), suggesting that Easter was a good one this year. Furniture and electrical goods sales were also up on last year.

Tribunal victory

The healthy retail sales numbers come a week after Poland won an appeal at the European Tribunal to reinstate its retail-tax bill, which had been suspended at the order of the European Commission in autumn 2016 before any funds had effectively been collected.

What that means is that large retail chains with takings of over EUR 40 mln a month will need to pay a tax on their sales 1.2 percent, while those with sales of between EUR 4 mln and EUR 40 mln will pay 0.8 percent.

Prime Minister, Mateusz Morawiecki has said that the tax, which was thought in 2016 to bring in PLN 1.8 bn (EUR 400 mln) in revenue, will be slightly reworked before reintroduction. Meanwhile, retail sector bosses have said they will appeal.

ING Bank Sląski analysts have suggested that spending in shops will remain high for the next few months, when a new wave of social spending will put extra cash into the pockets of pensioners and families with children.