Finland urgently needs structural reforms to promote employment and public finance and to accelerate the green and digital transition. The Finnish Commerce Federation calls on decision-makers to have the courage to tackle the changes that enable development towards a modern service-based society.
The Finnish Commerce Federation is disappointed that the Government still did not address Finland's structural problems in its budget session. Challenges related to the multiple tax wedge as well as incentives related to unemployment security and work were overlooked. The Government's temporary measures to compensate for the increased energy costs of households are welcome, but the high electricity tax on the commerce and service sectors and the possibility of utilising the huge potential of waste heat in the commerce sector were completely ignored.
The commerce sector requires urgent action to boost purchasing power and to address incentive traps. Reducing labour taxation is an important and urgent reform that tackles one of Finland’s most significant structural problems.
The Finnish Commerce Federation is adopting a more systematic approach to gathering data on responsibility in the sector. The federation has created a target picture for responsibility in commerce and defined the primary indicators for verifying the level of responsibility in the sector in cooperation with companies and commerce experts. The common goal is sustainably competitive commerce.
According to a recent forecast by the Finnish Commerce Federation, the volume of retail trade turnover will shrink by 2.5 per cent this year and more next year. The increase in turnover in euros will be driven solely by rising costs and prices. If Finland and Europe drift into recession, the fall in trade will deepen. Safeguarding purchasing power is essential for the development of trade, and therefore reducing labour taxation should be a top priority for the next government. A rising price-wage spiral will not support purchasing power.
According to a consumer survey ordered by the Finnish Commerce Federation, almost 70% of Finnish people believe that the organisation of everyday life would become easier if medicine could be purchased from stores. Reforming the pharmaceutical market would benefit wage earners and families with children, in particular. More than one third of customers have at some point had to postpone purchasing medicine due to its price.
According to the sector skill survey of the Service Sector Employers Palta, the Finnish Commerce Federation, the Finnish Hospitality Association MaRa and Finance Finland, half of the service companies in Finland have difficulties with recruiting competent labour. The sectors represented by the associations employ a total of about 1.3 million Finnish people, which is about two-thirds of the entire private sector.
The Finnish Commerce Federation and the Federation of Professional and Managerial Staff YTN have compiled a new publication on a new way to work and achieve occupational well-being, which contains recommendations on hybrid work and related well-being at work.
The Finnish Commerce Federation research* found that Finnish people shopping for household technology most often turn to Gigantti, Prisma and Power stores and the Verkkokauppa.com online store. At the tail end of last year, the sales of household technology began to plummet from the high numbers bolstered by the pandemic, and the decline could continue for a long time to come due to logistical problems, COVID-19 lockdowns in China and component shortage. Finns are reluctant to buy used electronics, but this trend may change in coming years.
The Finnish Commerce Federation is reminding the Ministry of Justice and Parliament to bear their responsibility with regard to the delayed implementation of EU consumer law. The Consumer Protection Act is being amended for the second time within a year in a way that requires commerce sector businesses to make considerable efforts. Nonetheless, companies are expected to adjust to the new obligations practically overnight. Mari Kiviniemi, Managing Director of the Finnish Commerce Federation, is dismayed by the fact that companies and consumers are being forced to take a hit from the delayed drafting of law.