According to the Finnish Commerce Federation’s latest customer satisfaction index, customer satisfaction has grown across all trade sectors in Finland. The growth has been the strongest in sporting goods, whereas medical services have seen the biggest drop in customer satisfaction. Of all the sectors covered, the best service experience is created in daily consumer goods trade. Customer service is a competitive advantage – also in Christmas trade. Christmas is traditionally the number one season of the year for the retail sector: sales increase by a quarter on average, and more than double in some areas of specialty goods trade.
According to the reputation index for the service sector, conducted this year for the second time, the industrial sector still has a better reputation than consumer services. The retail trade is the only sector to reach the reputation level of industries and rise above the average rating. The commerce sector’s reputation as an environmentally liable and reforming field has especially improved in two years. Consumers’ attitudes towards their own responsibility in the Helsinki region differ significantly from the rest of the country.
The Finnish Competition and Consumer Authority (FCCA), the Finnish Commerce Federation and the Federation of Finnish Enterprises will launch the good consumer relationship campaign on 5 September 2019, Finland’s Entrepreneur Day. On that day, SMEs in the commerce sector will be familiarised with the basics of consumer protection. The aim is to strengthen the awareness and skills of the sellers so that they know how to act at different stages of the sales process. All this will lead to a good consumer relationship, which will enhance consumers’ trust in companies.
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.
Finnish Commerce Federation, MaRa, PAM, Confederation of Finnish Industries and SAK propose, that in addition to a private person, a company could also seek a restraining order against persons who continuously cause disturbances. Both companies and employees require a safe business and work environment, the federations emphasise.
Clothing consumption in Finland will grow at an annual rate of about two per cent from the present to 2023. The average Finnish consumer’s spending on clothing is about 65 per cent of the average Norwegian’s spending and Finns’ spending on footwear is just over half of what the average Austrian spends. Finns buy clothing and footwear — and even sportswear — to a large extent from supermarkets, which have further increased their appeal compared to the previous year. It appears that supermarkets have been able to respond to international competition for consumers.
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.
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.
Mikko Helander, Executive Director of Kesko Corporation, continues as Chairman of the Finnish Commerce Federation in 2019. Taavi Heikkilä, Executive Director of SOK Corporation, continues as Vice Chairman.
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.