Retail numbers drop in the aftermath of sales ban

After the Polish government imposed a ban on Sunday trade affecting a vast majority of stores and shops in the country, many wondered what the long-term effects of such a move would be. The new legal provisions introducing the shopping embargo came into effect on the 1st of March 2018. Economy experts as well as politicians can now see the first effects of the ban as Central Statistical Office published the official data on retail sales in April.


The act on the ban on sales on Sundays gravely limited the options for buying anything on the seventh day of the week. As this change affects every member of the society and is a big shift from what Poles are used to, the lawmakers decided that the ban will only be in force on the first and the final Sunday of the month. Now, two months after the first no-trade Sunday, everyone is curious what the outcome of the ban will be and how it will affect the economy, if at all.


The opponents of trade limitations argued the ban would cause a drop in the number of jobs in the sales industry as businesses in Poland would start letting employees go. Proponents of the ban, on the other hand, claimed Poles will shop more during the weekdays and on Saturdays so neither the number of employees nor sales figures should take a downward turn.


Statistics for April show a different picture. Sales figures for the month are much lower than experts predicted. In fact, it has been the worst month for retail sales since October 2016. The year by year sales dynamics fell from 9.2% in March to 4.6% in April. However, the first Sunday of April was Easter Sunday and stores were closed on that day, leaving Poles with just one April Sunday when they had the opportunity to do shopping.


Zbigniew Maciąg from Konfederacja Lewiatan, an NGO representing Polish employers and “the voice of business” in Poland, says it is too early to comment on the long-term effects of the ban it has been in force for just two fairly untypical months. He expects, however, that consumer spending will remain on the current high level.