Data shows the Polish consumer is under pressure

Rising prices and higher interest rates dampened consumer spending in May, but the influx of Ukrainian refugees and their added consumption has helped to moderate the slowdown

editor: Grzegorz Adamczyk
author: Grzegorz Siemionczyk
A view of a packed car park at a popular shopping mall in Lomianki, near Warsaw, in Poland. (AP Photo/Czarek Sokolowski)

Retail sales increased by 8.2 percent in May compared to last year, whereas April of this year saw year-over-year growth of 19 percent, indicating slowing retail sales, according to data released by the Polish central statistics office (GUS).

Experts had anticipated retail sales growth of 8.8 percent in May. However, inflation and poor consumer sentiment may have taken their toll.

Also, although April’s 19 percent rise in retail sales may appear to indicate strong growth, many pandemic restrictions still applied in April 2021, whereas they had mostly been lifted by May of 2021. Therefore, the slowdown seen this year between the two months is exaggerated.  

Once the data is cleared of seasonal factors, retail sales in May actually increased by 0.6 percent, whereas they declined in April by 0.8 percent. May sales of furniture and household appliances, which are considered a barometer of consumer sentiment, declined 4 percent year-over-year in real terms after rising 27.9 percent a month earlier.

According to PKO bank analyst Piotr Bartkiewicz, the fall in consumer demand may be attributable to declining confidence and the leveling off in the rise of Ukrainian refugees coming onto the market. The general rise in prices may also be causing a situation in which people are more cautious about purchasing non-essential items. 

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