The crisis caused by the Covid-19 pandemic has changed consumer habits and accelerated online shopping, it was heard at the 32nd edition of the MAGROS 2020 conference for producers and retailers organised by the Croatian Chamber of Commerce (HGK) and the Suvremena Trgovina (Modern Shopping) magazine.
Economy Ministry State-Secretary Natasa Mikus Zigman underlined that retail is important for economic development, supporting her claim with data on the share of distributive retail trade in GDP of 10% and that 18% of all business entities are incorporated in that sector that employs 204,000 people or 15% of the total number of workers.
During the pandemic online shopping increased which shows, she said, that digital transformation is coming at an accelerated rate.
However Mikus Zigman underlined that traditional shopping should not be neglected as it is a key element for economic growth, particularly for local communities and for consumers who do not use digital technology, and all those people who prefer the traditional way of shopping.
HGK vice president for retail and finances, Josip Zaher, said that “we are living in very challenging and uncertain times in the midst of the global coronavirus pandemic but all restrictions can also be a challenge and an opportunity.”
“At the beginning of the year already we expected retail to grow in the overall economy, with tailwinds being provided by the record 2019 year, which after 11 years reached the level of retail of 2008. However, restrictions due to the pandemic have resulted in tectonic disruption on the global level and that downturn was felt in consumption and a change in habits by consumers hence in March a fall in retail was recorded after continually growing for five and a half years,” said Zaher.
According to the State Bureau of Statistics (DZS), in the first eight months of the year retail contracted by 6.9% ,compared to the same period last year, said Zaher, noting that recovery is not expected to occur next year and online shopping and adapting to new business conditions will continue.
He underlined that the ten strongest retailers account for 80% of the market which is very competitive as can be seen with the arrival of Eurospin in the midst of the pandemic. “Despite that, we do not expect any significant rearrangements on the market,” said Zaher.
Online shopping increase by 14%
Head of HGK’s retail section Tomislava Ravlic pointed out the permanent growth in online shopping which according to DZS, increased by 13.9% in the first six months of the year. “That trend was certainly boosted by the pandemic which restricted physical shopping,” she underlined.
She too said that consumer habits are changing with more people turning to online shopping because of the coronavirus. Household appliances, IT equipment, clothing and footwear are the most common products bought online with an increase in online food sales too, said Ravlic.