Operating environment

Interim Report 1-3/2024, 15 May 2024

The following outlook information is based on materials published by the Confederation of Finnish Industries EK and Statistics Finland.

The world economy is estimated to grow in 2024, but the growth rate will vary clearly between markets. The positive development in the United States has improved expectations somewhat, and the world economy is now expected to grow at a rate of 3.2 percent. On the other hand, growth in the Euro area in 2024 is expected to be only 0.8 percent. Inflation development and potentially lower interest rates remain central factors in the global economy. Geopolitical and geoeconomical situations continue to cause great uncertainties in the development of the world economy.

The economic outlook for Finland continues to be weak and the estimates regarding the current situation continue to be lower than during the coronavirus pandemic. The expectations of companies for the future development of the economy have increased since the beginning of the year but remain at a low level. The confidence indicator for the retail trade has declined from the early months of 2024 and is both clearly below the long-term average and lower than in other EU countries on average. Retail sales have decreased further, and sales expectations for the coming months are low. Consumer confidence has decreased and is clearly below the long-term average. Estimates concerning the current state of personal finances as well as expectations for Finland’s economy have decreased. Expectations concerning Finland’s economy in particular are gloomy. However, expectations for the future of personal finances and especially the estimate of the current state of personal finances are also very weak. Estimates concerning inflation and expectations for its future development have improved, but they continue to be at a high level. (Confederation of Finnish Industries EK: Business Tendency Survey, April 2024; Confidence Indicators, April 2024. Statistics Finland: Consumer Confidence, April 2024.)

The working-day-adjusted turnover of the Finnish retail trade decreased by 0.4 percent in March compared to the previous year and the volume of sales decreased by 0.2 percent. The cumulative working-day-adjusted turnover of the retail trade in the January-March period decreased by 1.1 percent and the volume of sales decreased by 1.6 percent. (Statistics Finland: Turnover of Trade, retail trade flash estimate, March 2024.)