Shops raked in more last year

The turnover of Austria’s retail trade soared by nearly three per cent year on year in 2010, it has been announced.Researcher KMU Forschung Austria said today (Tues) that shops in the country generated an overall turnover from sales of 50.1 billion Euros after taxes, 2.7 per cent more than in 2009. It pointed out that only the federal retail trades in France and Sweden achieved more year on year growth than shops in Austria in 2010.Pre-tax profits in the weeks ahead of Christmas rose by three per cent to 1.57 billion Euros, according to the Austrian Economy Chamber (WKO). This announcement comes after polls held ahead of the Christmas shopping period revealed that the majority of businesspeople expected to do better in 2010 than in the weeks before Christmas 2009. Market research surveys suggested that shops’ Christmas business turnover could range around 1.75 billion Euros.Statistics for sales throughout 2010 and figures focusing on Christmas sales identified shoe shops as the most successful branch as their turnover increased by 10 per cent from 2009 to the next year.The turnover of stores selling electronic appliances and home entertainment products rose by 4.5 per cent year on year in 2010, while bookshops suffered a 3.5 per cent decline.WKO official Fritz Aichinger said he was optimistic for 2011 depending on the job market remaining “stable”. Recent figures show than five per cent of Austrians are currently out of work.Aichinger warned that various branches may increase their prices in the long run. Earlier this month, Rewe Group boss Frank Hensel said: “There’s no reason for us to be euphoric about 2011.”Hensel, whose company runs leading supermarket chain Billa and other shops, said he was worried about the increased speculation activities over foodstuff prices on the global market and dramatic harvest declines. Hensel emphasised: “Several price hikes will be unavoidable.”Meanwhile, research company RegioData said it expected Austrians’ spending power to jump by 2.6 per cent this year to 2010 despite less welfare spending and the recently introduced tax increases. The firm said this improvement meant people will have an average 450 Euros more of disposable income to spend.