Experts: Rising prices starting to stabilize

Shoppers at a self service checkout.
Shoppers at a self service checkout. Source: Priit Mürk/ERR

Estonia's rising food prices have started to stabilize, a SEB analyst said on Friday. But questions still remain about future energy prices.

The consumer price index rose by 19.4 percent last year, data from statistics Estonia shows. Estonia's electricity and gas almost doubled.

The sky-high energy prices also pushed up food prices.

SEB analyst Mihkel Nestor said, even without the energy crisis and war in Ukraine, Estonia would have still faced rapid inflation.

"Estonia would probably have had the fastest inflation in Europe because our economy was doing very well. [There was] Very fast economic growth, wages were rising very fast, inevitably this tends to be passed on to prices," Nestor told Friday's "Aktuaalne kaamera".

Mihkel Nestor Source: ERR

"If we look at inflation in Estonia, it has responded much more strongly to both upward and downward pressures than the European average throughout history," he said.

However, even if energy prices drop significantly in the coming months, supermarket bills are not like to become cheaper.

Vaido Padumäe, CEO of Rimi Eesti, said the "first signs" of price stabilization can already be seen.

"If we look at the data for December, there are already early signs of this /.../ There are signs from the world markets that some commodities are starting to stabilize, some are starting to fall," he said.

Adding: "I really hope that we won't have any new surprises with energy prices."

A customer in a grocery store. Source: Priit Mürk/ERR

Nestor said components analyzed in the consumer price index are still rising in price. 

"There is hope that price increases could still start to slow. In fact, global food prices are already normalizing and it will just take time for this to filter through to the final consumer via food producers," he said.

Rimi's data shows customers have been making fewer purchases since April. It is assumed the first half of this year will be no better.

"Today, all the forecasts, and I think already the first signs of January, show that January-February will be a modest month for consumption," said Padumäe.

But it is not known if energy prices will rise or fall this year and everything else depends on this movement.

If there are no big surprises, Estonia's inflation rate could fall to 8.5 percent this year, Nestor said. In December it was 17.5 percent.


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Editor: Barbara Oja, Helen Wright

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