Operating environment

Financial Statements Bulletin, 15 February 2018

Uncertainty over the global economy continues, due partly to the unpredictability of the political situation. Growth is picking up speed, but at the same time the risks are increasing. The global economy is forecast to grow at a rate of almost 4 percent in 2018. In Europe, the situation is on the whole very strong. In the US, political uncertainty continues but growth is expected to remain steady. Confidence indicators point to a strengthening rate of growth, but the likelihood of a recession is increased by the fact that growth in the US has continued since 2009. In Asia, growth is forecast to continue to be brisk. China’s economic growth continues, but corporate indebtedness is a significant risk.

The Finnish economy has bottomed out. Export markets have strengthened, competitiveness has improved and there is growing confidence in the future. Current economic conditions are better than the average, and growth is expected to continue for at least the next half year. In retail trade, growth is forecast to continue to be at a fairly good level. Retail trade confidence remained good in January 2018 and it was above the average for the EU countries. The consumer confidence indicator was at a record high figure, and consumers’ expectations for their own finances and for the Finnish economy were very optimistic.

(Confederation of Finnish Industries EK: Economic Review, December 2017; Business Tendency Survey, January 2018; Confidence Indicators, January 2018. Statistics Finland: Consumer Survey, January 2018.)

In 2017, the volume of retail sales in Finland grew by 2.3 percent on the previous year. In December, sales were growing at a rate of 3.5 percent. (Statistics Finland: Turnover of Trade, retail trade flash estimate, December 2017).