Czechs frequently come to Poland to save money on a range of goods, especially for Czechs who live closest to the Polish border.
“Each visit is saving us money,” Czechs living near the border with Poland tell the Polish Press Agency (PAP).
In the village of Istebna in southern Poland, a convenience store parking lot is often occupied by Czech cars, with drivers coming from towns located 17 kilometers away. One Polish reporter saw Czechs mostly had their shopping carts filled with dairy products, meat, cold cuts, and carbonated drinks. Two Czechs, Vaclav and Jana, said they have been crossing the border since spring when Polish authorities lowered the VAT for many products.
“We were told that the bargains will end in July, but Poles extended the discounts. We can still shop here,” they said. They are not interested in going to larger towns and instead only visit Istebna, which is closer.
On social media, Czechs are exchanging information about where to find the cheapest products such as building materials, windows, business suits, gravestones, and pet food. The border town of Cieszyn is a place where residents of Český Těšín, the Czech part of the town, cross the border even for their everyday shopping.
Each refueling done in Poland saves €8.50 to €17 (40-80 złoty) for Czechs depending on the car’s tank capacity. Guides showing where and how to obtain the lowest possible price at Polish gas stations can be found on the internet. Gas stations in Polish Bogumin even offer the possibility to pay in Czech koruna. An additional incentive for clients from Czechia is the low price of cigarettes, even when bought at a gas station.
One of Prague’s well-known economists, Lukasz Kovanda, calculates that the extended VAT reduction in Poland means that Czechs save around €32 per trip. For many of them, driving and shopping takes just around 20 minutes.
“This will not change until the end of the year,” Kovanda stressed on Czech media.
The popularity of Polish gas stations and shops brings back memories from 40 years ago when the Czech stores near the border were struggling with waves of buyers from Poland.
“The situation has reversed. Poles used to plunder our shops. They were buying everything, chocolate, water, and they left empty shelves. Now we go to them. Nothing wrong about that. Business is business,” wrote one Czech internet user on social media.