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Wages up, retail down

By Howard Jarvis. 02.09.2010

Changes in retail trade
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Even though there are signs that people in Latvia are starting to earn more again, retail sales are still flat.

The average gross monthly wage in Latvia grew by almost 3 percent in the second quarter compared to the previous quarter, to LVL 444 (€634). Yet the country’s total retail trade turnover in July tumbled by 2 percent from the same month in 2009.
The most obvious decrease in retail sales was the figure of -2.2 percent recorded in the non-food product area, while food prices fell by 1.8 percent.
In comparison with June, total retail trade turnover decreased by 0.5 percent, and food retail actually increased by 2.1 percent. Trade in non-food products fell 1.8 percent, however.
Surprisingly, quarterly growth in the average wage in the public sector was as high as 6.4 percent in the second quarter, rising to LVL 474, while growth in private sector wages was negligible, at 0.6 percent from the first quarter, to LVL 423.
However, this was as much caused by irregular benefits being paid by state and municipal enterprises as by wages increasing at local governments and institutions under their supervision.
Compared to Q2 2009, the average gross wage was down by 6.3 percent; the net wage was down by as much as 11 percent, to LVL 316. Personal income tax has been raised from 23 percent to 26 percent, effective since January 1, with the tax-exempt minimum income falling drastically from LVL 90 to LVL 35 on July 1.


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