Turnover fell 72 pct in textile, clothing and footwear stores

According to Statistics Estonia, in April 2020, the turnover of retail trade enterprises was 517 million euros. Compared to April 2019, turnover decreased by 15% at constant prices.

According to Jaanika Tiigiste, leading analyst at Statistics Estonia, the turnover of stores selling manufactured goods fell by 24% year on year. “The main reason for the turnover decline in April was the fact that shopping centres were closed for the whole month because of the emergency situation,” explained Tiigiste.

Turnover decreased the most, by 72%, in stores selling textiles, clothing and footwear. Other specialised stores selling predominantly manufactured goods (department stores) but also pharmacies and cosmetics stores lost half of their turnover compared to the same period a year ago. In stores selling second-hand goods and in non-store retail sale (stalls, markets, direct sale), the decrease was 32%. In other specialised stores, such as stores selling predominantly computers and their accessories, books, sports equipment, games, toys, flowers, plants, etc., turnover declined by 18%, and in stores selling household goods and appliances, hardware and building materials, by 11%.

Enterprises engaged in the retail sale of automotive fuel recorded a 25% decline in turnover, while the turnover of grocery stores remained at the same level as in April of the previous year.

In April, compared to March, the turnover of retail trade enterprises decreased by 18%. According to the seasonally and working-day adjusted data, the decrease was 13%.

In the first four months of 2020, the turnover of retail trade enterprises decreased by 1% compared to the same period of the previous year.

Read more from Statistics Estonia

Increase in average wages and salaries

According to Statistics Estonia, in the 1st quarter of 2020, the average monthly gross wages and salaries were 1,404 euros, which is 4.8% higher than the year before. In quarterly comparison, the increase is the most modest in recent years.

Compared to the 4th quarter of 2019, the average monthly gross wages and salaries decreased by 4.6%. According to Karina Valma, analyst at Statistics Estonia, this is mainly due to a decrease in irregular bonuses. “Compared to the 4th quarter of 2019, irregular bonuses decreased by 37%, which is normal at the beginning of the year,” said Valma. The average monthly labour cost per employee was 1,876 euros, which is 4.3% higher than the year before.

Read more from Statistics Estonia

The construction volume increased in 1stQ

According to Statistics Estonia, in the first quarter of 2020, the total production of Estonian construction enterprises in Estonia and abroad increased by 7% year on year. The construction volume increased in Estonia, but decreased in foreign countries.

The production value of Estonian construction enterprises amounted to 631 million euros, of which building construction accounted for 487 million euros and civil engineering for 144 million euros. Compared to the first quarter of 2019, the volume of building construction increased by 5% and the volume of civil engineering works (roads, bridges, port facilities, pipelines, communication and electricity lines, sports fields, etc.) increased by nearly a fifth.

According to Merike Sinisaar, leading analyst at Statistics Estonia, changes in the construction sector happen with some delay. The data of the first quarter show that, because the impact of the emergency situation is not yet evident. “The domestic construction market was affected the most by an increase in the volume of building construction due to repair and reconstruction works. Civil engineering works also contributed to bigger construction volumes,” said Sinisaar.

The construction volume of Estonian construction enterprises in foreign countries decreased by nearly a fifth year on year. There was a fall in both building construction and civil engineering works. Construction in foreign countries accounted for 7% of the total construction volume; the share a year ago was 9%.

According to the Register of Construction Works, 1,874 dwellings were completed, which is an increase of nearly a tenth compared to the same period a year ago. The majority of completed dwellings were in Tallinn, the rural municipalities in the vicinity of Tallinn and in Tartu county. Building permits were granted for the construction of 2,021 dwellings, which is up by a fourth compared to the first quarter of 2019. The most popular type of building was a block of flats.

Completed non-residential buildings numbered 366, with a useful floor area of 277,000 m2 – these were primarily new industrial, office and education premises. Compared to the same quarter of 2019, both the useful floor area as well as the volume of completed non-residential buildings increased.

Read more from Statistics Estonia

The crisis is a chance to push for bolder policies

  • The Nordic and Baltic economies will be hard hit by the Covid-19-induced shock due to their small size and relative openness.
  • Strong economic fundamentals and a timely reaction to the health crisis ensure that the countries are in an advantageous position to take on the challenge.
  • The crisis gives a chance to push for bolder and greener policies, as well as advance reforms aimed at streamlining the growing public sector and further tailoring the economy and human capital to the digital post-corona world.

Tackling and surviving the Covid-19 shock requires extra-fast thinking, and an innovative government response, as well as digitally apt, creative, and flexible businesses and citizens. The Nordics and Baltics are rather well prepared to take on the challenge.

However, the crisis sheds light on a number of pre-existing conditions that need to be addressed to ensure sustainable long-run growth in the post-corona world. These include, for example, the inadequately funded and unreformed health care system in the Baltics, Norway’s reliance on oil, Sweden’s polarised labour market, and the less-than-stellar educational outcomes in many of the region’s economies.

The crisis is a chance to push for bolder policies and reforms that have previously been postponed due to the lack of sense of urgency or political will. As a result, the Nordics and Baltics can emerge from this fight even stronger, more competitive, and more sustainable.

Some good thoughts I picked:

Green investment
The massive fiscal stimulus should also be geared towards green investment, especially in Norway and Estonia, whose ecological footprint is larger than that of other economies in the region.

Poor get poorer due to lack of IT knowledge?
The crisis has turbocharged the previous trend of moving towards a more digitalised way of life. This is good news for the Nordics since they are top scorers on digital readiness, while Latvia and Lithuania have some catching up to do in this regard. Within the countries, the less-digitally-savvy individuals and the ones most affected by the crisis are also typically those who are already at the bottom of the income and wealth distribution. Governments, especially in the Baltics, that score low on social inclusion should implement policies to prevent a part of the population from falling even farther behind.

New investments
All the region’s economies score well on the World Bank’s Doing Business; therefore, they are in a good position to benefit from the shortening of supply chains and likely relocation of production. Attracting new investment is crucial, especially for the catching-up Baltics.

Corporate lending and GDP growth differential
Estonia -8.6  and Finland +3.9

Public debt, % of GDP
Estonia 8,4 and Finland 59.4

Read more here

Source: Līva Zorgenfreija, Chief Economist in Latvia

Part-time employment increased

According to Statistics Estonia, in the first quarter of 2020, the labour force participation rate in Estonia was 71.7%, the employment rate was 68.1%, and the unemployment rate was 5%. These indicators do not yet reflect the negative impact of the emergency situation on the Estonian labour market.

According to Eveli Voolens, leading analyst at Statistics Estonia, the number of employed persons was 670,300 in the first quarter, which is 8,500 more compared to the same period of 2019. “Full-time employment did not change much year on year: 571,400 persons were employed full-time. The number of part-time workers has grown: there were 98,800 of them,” said Voolens.

6,900 persons were underemployed. These are persons who work part-time, but would like to work more and are available for additional work within two weeks.

Read more from Statistics Estonia

Price of diesel falls below a euro per liter

Fuel company Jetoil was the first to lower the price of diesel below a euro per liter on Thursday, followed by Olerex, Neste, Alexela and Circle K later.

According to Alan Vaht, board member at fuel company Alexela, further decrease in fuel prices is expected elsewhere due to cuts in excise duty.

“Unfortunately, the world market prices are rising. The price of diesel fuel has risen by two cents per liter and the price of gasoline by one cent per liter. The prices are going up and down,” Vaht said, remarking that storage facilities are full, there is nowhere to store crude oil and this will keep fuel prices low throughout the year. Prices will not rise before OPEC decides to scale back production.

On Tuesday, Vaht predicted the price of 95-octane gasoline to fall as well, but the price of petrol has risen by a cent on the world market.

The government cut excise duty on diesel as part of its economic aid package in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, meaning from Friday, May 1, fuel sellers are likely to lower prices at pump by 14.5 cents per liter, from the current level of €1.199 per liter, which it has been at for a couple of weeks, at least in Tallinn, to €1.054.

Read more from ERR News

Excise duty on natural gas, electricity lowered

The excise duty rate on natural gas will be lowered from €79.14 to €40 per 1,000 cubic meters and the rate of excise duty on electricity will be lowered from €4.47 to one euro per megawatt-hour in Estonia from May 1, 2020.

“Due to the economic downturn, both people’s incomes and the revenue of companies are declining, but daily household expenses such as electricity or gas bills still need to be paid. To better cope with them, we are reducing excise duty rates on gas and electricity for two years,” Finance Minister Martin Helme said.

Read more from ERR News

Same on Ministry of Finance page

Estonian average salaries online

Statistics Estonia presented a wages and salaries application, which visualizes median wages by Estonian regions and counties for 110 most common occupations.

The wages and salaries application uses data from the employment register (TÖR) and Estonian tax declaration form TSD annexes 1 and 2. As of the first half of 2019, employers are obligated to enter the job title, workplace location and working hours of employees into the employment register. According to Kaja Sõstra, leading analyst in experimental statistics at Statistics Estonia, the application was developed to give something back to enterprises. “The application allows enterprises to assess the labour market situation and compare wage levels. The quality of the displayed data depends on how accurately enterprises submit data to the employment register and update this information when there are changes,” explained Sõstra.

The application shows median gross wages and salaries that employers paid to registered full-time employees in 2019. Median wage is such that half of the employees in the population under consideration earn less and the other half earn more. “Our aim was to use median wages in the application, as it gives a more precise picture of the labour market compared to average wages, which are usually talked about, “ said Statistics Estonia’s data scientist Kadri Rootalu.

The application is meant for everybody in Estonia. It can be used to compare wages received by employees, or wages paid by enterprises, with the median wages of the group of occupations. The largest target group is, however, enterprises that have entered data in the employment register.

The developers of the application hope that it adds to the transparency and openness of the Estonian labour market. Time dimension will be added as of the second quarter of 2020, which will allow viewing changes in wages and their distribution by quarter. In cooperation with the Gender Equality and Equal Treatment Commissioner and researchers at the University of Tartu and Tallinn University of Technology, in autumn, a development will be added to the application, which will make it possible to compare wage data by gender. “The gender pay gap in Estonia is one of the largest in the European Union. One solution to decrease the pay gap is greater transparency and knowledge. If the wages of men and women working in the same occupation are known, women can have fairer salary discussions. Knowledge based on surveys and statistics helps to make informed decisions in recruitment and salary discussions,” said Gender Equality and Equal Treatment CommissionerLiisa Pakosta.

The wages and salaries application is available here (only in Estonian).

Common occupations for which wages and salaries data are available in the application are, for example:

shop sales assistants (müüjad); cleaners and helpers in offices, hotels and other establishments (koristajad ja abilised kontoris, hotellis jms asutustes); stationary plant and machine operators (seadme- ja masinaoperaatorid); heavy truck and lorry drivers (veoautojuhid); machinery mechanics and repairers (masinamehaanikud ja -lukksepad); teachers (õpetajad); assemblers (koostajad); commercial sales representatives (müügiesindajad); nurses (õed); wood treaters, cabinet-makers (puidutöötlejad ja tislerid); cooks (kokad); engineers (insenerid); building and repair workers (ehitus- ja remonditöölised); software developers (tarkvaraarendajad); secretaries (sekretärid).

Source: Statistics Estonia

The website

Estonians spend average 489 euros per month

According to Statistics Estonia, in 2019, a household member spent an average of 489 euros per month, which is 81 euros more than in 2016. The share of compulsory expenditure, i.e. unavoidable food and dwelling expenses in the household budget has decreased by 3% in three years.

Last year, expenditure on food and dwelling accounted for 36.8% of the household budget and was on average 180 euros per month per household member. Compared to 2016, compulsory expenditure increased by 18 euros per month per household member.

In 2019, a household member spent 104 euros per month on food and non-alcoholic beverages, which accounted for 21.2% of the total expenditure. The average expenditure on dwelling was 76 euros per month. Both expenditures increased by 9 euros compared to 2016. Expenditure on transport was on average 72 euros, leisure time 52 euros, housekeeping 36 euros and clothing and footwear 27 euros per month per household member. Expenditure on transport increased the most – by 22 euros compared to 2016.

Per member of an urban household, the average expenditure on dwelling was 19 euros higher than in rural areas (83 and 64 euros per month, respectively). Urban households also spent more on eating out and hotels – the average expenditure of a household member in urban areas was 5.9% and in rural areas 4.1% of the budget.

In rural areas, transport expenses accounted for 16.8% and in urban areas for 13.7% of the household budget, which is 77 euros per month per member of a rural household and 69 euros per month per member of an urban household. In rural areas, expenditure on food and non-alcoholic beverages per household member accounted for 22.8% and in urban areas for 20.4% of the budget.

By county, the largest expenditures of households were in Hiiu*, Harju and Viljandi counties (598, 553 and 515 euros per month per household member, respectively) and the smallest in Võru and Ida-Viru counties (325 and 327 euros per month per household member, respectively).

The estimates were calculated according to the data of the Household Budget Survey conducted in 2019. More than 4,500 households participated in the survey. A household is a group of people who live at the same address and share joint financial resources and whose members consider themselves to belong to the same household. In 2019, there were over 606,600 households in Estonia and the average size of a household was 2.2 persons.

Mortgage payments, real estate purchases, financial investments, expenses on major repairs or construction and other investments are not taken into account as household consumption expenditure.

See graph here

Source: Statistics Estonia

Turnover of pharmacies increased in March

According to Statistics Estonia, in March 2020, the turnover of retail trade enterprises was 630 million euros. Compared to March of the previous year, turnover increased by 4% at constant prices.

The turnover growth of stores selling manufactured goods slowed down in March. While in February the turnover of these enterprises increased by 13% compared to the same month of the previous year, in March the growth was 6%. Turnover increased the most in pharmacies and stores selling cosmetics and in other specialised stores. In both economic activities, the growth was 30%. Turnover increased also in stores selling via mail order or the internet and in stores selling household goods and appliances, hardware and building materials. Compared to March of the previous year, turnover decreased by 43% in stores selling textiles, clothing and footwear and by 21% in non-specialised stores selling predominantly manufactured goods (department stores). Turnover decreased by 10% in stores selling second-hand goods and in non-store retail sale (stalls, markets, direct sale).

The turnover of grocery stores increased by 8% compared to March of the previous year. The turnover of enterprises engaged in the retail sale of automotive fuel decreased by 13%.

In March compared to February, the turnover of retail trade enterprises increased by 10%. According to the seasonally and working-day adjusted data, the turnover decreased by 3%. In the first three months of 2020, the turnover of retail trade enterprises increased by 5% compared to the corresponding period of the previous year.

Read more here
Source: Statistics Estonia