Polish retail sales rose 9.6% year-on-year at constant prices in March, the rate of growth accelerating from an 8.1% year-on-year gain the previous month, statistics office GUS said. April 22.
The March reading shows the effect of the influx of more than 2 million war refugees from war-torn Ukraine, but also the resilience of Poles’ consumption despite runaway inflation, which hit 11 % y/y in March.
Retail data concluded a very strong first quarter in the Polish economy, with the outlook for the second and subsequent quarters remaining broadly favorable due to a strong labor market and refugees increasing the number of consumers, according to analysts.
“However, due to expected high inflation, rising interest rates and a less favorable base effect, annual growth in consumer demand is expected to slow. We expect consumption in 2022 to increase by 4.2% after a 6.2% increase last year,” Bank Millennium said.
Overall, notes the state-controlled bank PKO BP, “economic growth in the first quarter could have even reached 10% year-on-year, which … poses a significant upside risk to our GDP growth forecast. 3.3% over the full year.
“Much of this strength is unlikely to last as the effects of the war in Ukraine are felt, but Poland is likely to avoid a contraction and continue to outperform its regional peers this year,” said Capital Economics.
Six of the eight major retail segments posted year-over-year revenue gains at constant prices in March, GUS showed in the data breakdown.
Sales of textiles, apparel and footwear grew the fastest, rising 41.9% year-on-year in the third month. Motor fuels sales jumped 15.5% y/y, while pharmaceutical segment revenue increased 15.9% y/y.
Food sales edged up 0.2% year-on-year. Sales of furniture, audio and video equipment and home appliances rose 2.8% for the year. Sales of cars and auto parts fell 9.3% year-on-year. The “other” lump sum category recorded a gain of 31.2% y/y.
At current prices, retail trade turnover increased by 22% over one year (+16.5% in February) in March.
In m/m terms and at constant prices, sales rose 16.4% and rose 1.4% when adjusted in March, according to GUS data. At current prices, there was an unadjusted gain of 22% m/m.
Retail sales and other data do not change much in the outlook for interest rates in Poland. The National Bank of Poland is almost certain to raise again in May, with the market expecting a 50bp hike to take the benchmark rate to 5%.
Further tightening is still very likely in the coming months, as inflation is expected to persist in double digits in the wake of the war in Ukraine and the resulting high energy commodity prices.