Czechs are increasingly interested in discounts and 40 percent of Czech households study retailers´ flyers and compare prices before shopping for food, according to the results of a poll conducted by Incoma GfK. This is the highest number since monitoring started in 1997. The popularity of discount shops is on the rise, while interest in small shops is decreasing. Twenty-five percent of households say they shop exclusively at discount stores, 17 percent cite supermarkets, and only 12 percent of households said they buy food mainly in smaller shops, the lowest share since 1997.
Despite predictions that the Czech economy would emerge out of its longest recession on record in the second half of 2013, the recovery has so far been only sluggish. Third quarter figures have even suggested the chances of another dip. But Jan Bureš, the chief economist for Era Poštovní spořitelna, believes the recovery is tangible and based on stabilized domestic demand and increasing exports. The emerging coalition’s pledge to increase public investment will be a key factor behind the return to growth in 2014, according to Mr. Bureš.
Czech internet shops saw an increase in sales this Christmas season. Some online stores registered a year-on-year growth for the holiday season of around 40 percent. Others saw a weaker increase, but all the biggest e-shops confirmed that this Christmas was more successful than last year, and holiday shopping began earlier, due to the central bank’s intervention against the crown, which began in November. The biggest internet retailer in electronics, Alza.cz, announced that the three strongest days, in terms of sales, were between December 16 and 18. Total daily sales were approximately the same for Alza each of those days, reaching way above 100 million crowns.
Businessmen Daniel Křetínský and Pavel Tkac have confirmed buying the Ringier Axel Springer CZ group. The value of the group which publishes the Czech Republic’s best-selling tabloid Blesk, the weekly Reflex, and a daily sports newspaper among others, has been estimated at 4.7 billion crowns (170 million euro). In a statement for journalists the group’s new owners said their main task would be to address the address the problems facing print publishers.
The High State Attorney in Prague has charged 12 people over contracts awarded by the Czech government during the country’s EU presidency in 2009, state attorney Tomáš Černý said. The prosecutors say that contracts for audiovisual services, awarded to the firm Promopro during the six-month period, were overpriced by 338 million crowns. Among those charged with manipulating public tenders and abuse of office are three former close associates of Alexandr Vondra, who was deputy prime minister for European affairs when the alleged offences took place. Mr. Vondra himself has not been charged.
Car maker Škoda Auto has won the Czech exporter of the year contest, ahead of the companies Foxconn and Panasonic AVC. Skoda Auto also won the category measuring the volume of exports in the course of the past decade. The awards were presented to company representatives by President Miloš Zeman on Monday night. The president stressed the importance of economic diplomacy in promoting Czech national interests saying the country’s ambassadors and honorary consuls should be highly qualified in this respect. The annual contest is open to all exporters whose turnover exceeds 100 million crowns.
Czech retailers and economists had reason to be optimistic when sales figures for September showed a 4 percent growth. But last week, the Czech Statistics Office announced that in October retail sales saw a year-on-year decline of 0.6 percent. This may put a slight damper on the hopes for a steady recovery from the economic recession, but many hope that the recent monetary interventions and the pre-holiday shopping season will put sales growth back on track.
A battle over opening hours at Czech stores during the holidays has continued for several years and once again the question of whether stores should close or remain open at Yuletide is being hotly debated. Some Czech union representatives want to see hours curbed so that cashiers or shop assistants can spend more time with their loved ones; critics say the matter should be left up to employers.
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