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Wealth gap has narrowed substantially
Huge strides for CEE countries in retailThe retail market in Eastern Europe has made huge strides in the 30 years after the end of communism, although the gap between Western Europe and CEE is still visibly present.
"It is clear that the catch-up process will take at least three generations, although the wealth gap has narrowed substantially. The growing adoption of digital and mobile technologies will provide greater data capture opportunities to increase customer, sales and inventory visibility," stated a recent report from Planet Retail.
A large part of the region is still dominated by traditional independent retailers, but the modern retail formats are becoming widespread in some of the markets, the Czech Republic in particular, had the highest share of modern food retail format sales in 2017, with a 77% penetration of the market.
"Mobile penetration among CEE consumers is relatively high. Markets such as Poland, Hungary or Russia have faster adoption of mobile payment technologies than many other European countries. This is why International retailers have been using markets like Poland or Romania to test innovative or digital solutions, pressuring local players to also invest."
The largest growth is expected to be found in urban areas where income levels are rising, which encourages consumers to spend for 'experience'.
"With supermarket & neighbourhood stores being the largest channel and still fast-growing, convenience stores gaining ground will only perpetuate small-box dominance in CEE. Retail sales growth dynamics will remain under pressure, due to social factors like negative net migration and ageing populations. Protectionism is also an important and growing factor in risk assessment, for retailers more so than for FMCGs,"
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