Online retail trade grew by 22 per cent in Finland last year, exceeding record pace of the 2010s. At the same time, domestic online shopping grew, and an increasing number of Finnish online stores were among the highest rated in the fourth edition of a listing of customer ratings published by the Finnish Commerce Federation. Online shopping is becoming increasingly commonplace among consumers, which is why now is the time for both companies and political decision-makers to invest in its development.
A physical store plays a key role in the retail trade of home and living products, both with regard to seeking pre-purchase information and the actual purchase. Digital channels and mobile platforms in particular are increasingly important, with the coronavirus crisis accelerating the development. The place of purchase is often decided on based on price, but the selection of products and quality, among other factors, are also important selection criteria for many. The coronavirus is threatening the most important season of the hardware store sector, the largest sector within the specialty goods trade. An increase in the tax credit for household expenses would quickly help the sector.
Online stores outside the EU gain an unfair and significant competitive edge compared to Finnish stores. One of the main differences arises from product safety legislation. To strengthen fair competition as well as consumer safety, product safety legislation should also be applied to consumer sales outside of the EU.
The recent e-commerce survey conducted by the Finnish Commerce Federation shows that the digitalisation of the Finnish commerce sector has been rapid and that domestic e-commerce has especially taken over a bigger share of the market. Domestic online stores are also appreciated. Despite this, a lot remains to be done in internationalisation of the Finnish e-commerce. Online grocery trade has grown at a furious pace, and the coronavirus pandemic will most likely further accelerate growth.
The significance of fair conditions for competition is strongly emphasised in the European Commission Work Programme 2020 published today. The Finnish Commerce Federation finds it excellent that the Commission finally seems to be tackling the issues related to the platform economy also as it concerns trade in goods. The programme also widely acknowledges the climate and circular economy ambitions that are important for the commerce sector.
The business sector has been growing at a rate of around two per cent per year for the past few years now. Next year, the growth will slow down, but it will not stop. However, the turnover growth* in wholesale slowed down already last year and has even contracted slightly since the beginning of this year. According to the Finnish Commerce Federation’s forecast, the next decade will bring about great changes to corporate structures and the number of companies in the commerce sector. This will also be reflected in employment.
E-commerce continues its strong growth. In 2018, the digital purchases made by Finns grew approximately six per cent and this growth is expected to continue – especial in mobile. The Finnish Commerce Federation is concerned that online stores, located in countries like China, do not adhere to the same regulations as those located in the EU.