Operating environment

Interim Report, 9 May 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 April 2018 and it was above the average for the EU countries. In February and March, the consumer confidence indicators were at a record high figure. Consumers’ expectations for the Finnish economy were very optimistic and expectations for their own finances were good.

(Confederation of Finnish Industries EK: Economic Review, March 2018; Business Tendency Survey, January 2018 and May 2018; Confidence Indicators, April 2018. Statistics Finland: Consumer Survey, April 2018.)

In the January-March period of 2018, the volume of retail sales in Finland grew by 3.9 percent on the same period last year. In March, sales were growing at a rate of 3.8 percent. (Statistics Finland: Turnover of Trade, retail trade flash estimate, March 2018).