Retail sales continued to grow in July following this spring's coronavirus crisis. Statistics Estonia reports that while growth was more modest in July compared to June, it comes as a sign of consumer confidence and gradual economic recovery.
Retail sales grew by 4 percent in July to suggest that the crisis has not had an impact on summer shopping. Chief economist for Swedbank Tõnu Mertsina said that commerce has not suffered as much as feared.
"On the one hand, it is because malls were opening in the middle of May and people want to consume given the chance. On the other, with the crisis context in mind, we can see that unemployment has not skyrocketed. The [Unemployment Insurance Fund's] salary benefit and other government support measures have helped keep unemployment in check," he said.
Even though retail has bounced back faster than consumption in general, crisis recovery has been strong in Estonia. While retail volumes are forecast to grow also in August, everything will depend on the coronavirus situation come fall.
"Looking at card payments, they were growing in June. This means that recovery from the low point in April and May has been rather quick," Mertsina explained.
Head of marketing for the Rahva Raamat chain of bookstores Kersti Küla said that sales have indeed grown. Rahva Raamat stores are selling more full-price Estonian books. Sales volumes have recovered in small cities and outside of major centers, while the disappearance of tourists can still be felt by major stores.
Sales have returned to normal also at Rimi supermarkets. Executive manager of Rimi Estonia Vaido Padumäe said that some client habits have changed.
"We are seeing fewer impulse purchases. People are perhaps a little bit more careful in terms of what they put in their shopping carts. Sweets and other such goods categories have not quite recovered to last year's level," Padumäe said.
While Rimi says that customers are buying school supplies at the last minute this year, Rahva Raamat has not noticed such a trend.
Editor: Marcus Turovski