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WARSAW/GDANSK, (Poland) - May 22 (Reuters) - Poland’s retail sales fell by more than a fifth year on year in April, statistics office data showed on Friday, as a lockdown to contain the coronavirus pandemic hammered demand.
Retail sales fell by 22.6%, more than the 16.9% decline expected by analysts polled by Reuters. The data came a day after the statistics office released output figures that were also much worse than forecast.
Retail sales fell in all eight categories measured by the statistics office, with the textile sector registering a decline of 64.6%, followed by a 54.8% drop for cars and auto parts, as a coronavirus lockdown closed shops and kept people at home.
“I don’t remember a fall on a such a scale,” said Bank Pekao economist Piotr Piekos.
“April was probably the apogee of the sales fall. We had restrictions for the whole month, with shopping malls closed, limits on number of people at shops, (and) self-isolation of the population.”
The bleak data follows the April IHS Markit Purchasing Managers’ Index for manufacturing, which slumped to a record low, with unprecedented drops in output, new orders and exports, as well as worse than expected output data.
April’s economic indicators are expected to show the full extent of the hit to the largest economy in the European Union’s eastern wing from the pandemic, as lockdown measures were in force throughout the month.
The Finance Ministry signalled on Wednesday it expected the economy to contract by 4-5% this year, more than previously expected decline of 3.4%. (Reporting by Gdansk bureau and Anna Wlodarczak-Semczuk; writing by Marcin Goclowski; Editing by Mark Potter)