The rate of employment in commerce will decrease this year by one per cent, as sales continue to tread water. The largest employer in the private sector, commerce, already began decreasing last year: the year saw 5,000 persons lose their jobs in retail sales alone.

According to predictions by the Federation of Finnish Commerce, commercial sales will take a downturn this year. Turnover for the entire commerce industry, when adjusted for price variance, will decrease this year by one and a half per cent.

In retail sales, the decrease in purchasing power and slow economic growth will leave this year’s turnover, adjusted for inflation, at the level of the previous year. The beginning of the year in particular will be difficult for retail sales. At the end of the year, sales are set to perk up, and next year they will take an upward turn, growing by one and a half per cent. Projected growth is still clearly slower than average.

The start of 2013 will also pose difficulties for car sales, and the turnover for the whole year will shrink once again. Wholesale turnover, on the other hand, will take a positive turn at year’s end, but the start of the year looks dismal as construction and private investments are decreasing and retail sales will not lend wings for growth. Next year, however, retail sales are already projected to grow by four per cent.

“The risks of this downward trend are clear. The strong euro is slowing down export growth and having a direct impact on wholesale, which directly serves exports. The economic policy in Europe, for its part, does not encourage investment or spending and thereby does not strengthen economic growth. Companies operating in commerce should take this into consideration,” says Jaana Kurjenoja, Chief Economist at the Finnish Commerce Federation.

The decrease in turnover is also continuing to weaken the rate of employment in commerce. According to predictions by the Federation of Finnish Commerce, the number of persons employed in commerce decrease this year by one per cent. Next year, on the other hand, overall employment in the commerce industry is set to grow by one per cent, but the number of employed persons in retail sales will increase by only half a percentage.

“The government’s taxation policy is also playing a part when it comes to opportunities for employment in commerce. Tightening taxation eats away at purchasing power, accelerates inflation and does not support growth,” Kurjenoja warns.

Boldness needed in taxation policy

“The taxation policy of today lacks the boldness and grand visions of the start of the 1990s. By implementing new tax deductions and tinkering with state support, Finland will not provide jobs for anyone but state officials,” says Juhani Pekkala, Managing Director of the Finnish Commerce Federation, evaluating the situation.

Commerce serves all of society, from healthcare to private consumers. For this reason, a national economy with a healthy foundation is a lifeline for commerce. The Federation of Finnish Commerce feels that taxation systems should be overhauled, and that business support and the institutes that manage it should be pruned back. When taxation systems are simple and the tax base is low for everyone, companies in all industries have an incentive for their operations. Successful players are determined by the market, not by politicians or state officials.

“Finland continues to be one of the most highly taxed countries. Everyone should pay taxes, but less of them!” says Pekkala, explaining his view.

Further information:
Managing Director Juhani Pekkala, Finnish Commerce Federation, t. +358 (09) 1728 5111, juhani.pekkala(at)kauppa.fi
Chief Economist Jaana Kurjenoja, Finnish Commerce Federation, t. +358 (09) 1728 5134, jaana.kurjenoja(at)kauppa.fi

Finnish Commerce Federation represents commerce, the largest sector of economic life. Commerce employs around 300,000 persons in Finland. The Federation has around 7,000 member companies and represents both retail and wholesale commerce in industry politics and labour market lobbying. www.kauppa.fi