The coronavirus crisis gave a record-high boost to the sales of electronics, hardware and daily consumer goods in places, but many branches of the specialty goods trade suffered. Simultaneously, the loss of retail trade jobs has accelerated. The potential second wave of the coronavirus towards the end of the year could cut the predicted 2.5 per cent growth in retail business in half and speed up the loss of jobs. Bold and comprehensive structural reforms are called for to eliminate the incentive traps tormenting 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.
On the brink of summer 2018, there was a turn of events that was particularly evident in the amount of revenue in department store trade and wholesale trade*: the three per cent growth witnessed at the start of the year turned down. The growth of specialty goods trade and grocery trade also slowed down. The slowing growth will also continue next year, and unemployment will begin to increase again. The greatest challenge facing commerce is the domestic cost burden, which makes it difficult to compete on a global scale. Value added tax specifically penalises work done in Finland.
Even a strong economic cycle has not been enough to bring commerce to the level of growth of the early 2000s. Retail is estimated to grow this year as well as last year. However, the growth will slow down next year. Employment has risen only temporarily and will continue to decline in 2020. Growth in wholesale turnover has not improved the rate of employment. The development of the service sector is slowed down by multiple taxes accumulated on top of the services’ prices. Heavy taxation on services and decreased consumption due to the ageing population will make the future of the private service sector very difficult if there will be no tax cuts.