Business News

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In Business News this week: the Czech Republic receives 15 million euros from the EU’s budget surplus; the number of foreign workers is up in the first quarter of this year; Czech retail sales have grown in February beyond expectation; Czechs are spending more time and money in malls than ever before, and Spar is planning a new chain of small city shops in Prague.

Czech Republic to receive 15 million euros from EU budget surplus

Photo: European Commission
Brussels announced this week that the Czech Republic would be receiving 15 million euros (375 million crowns, 24 million USD) from the European Union’s budget surplus this year. Prague won’t receive the money directly, but the amount the Czech Republic will contribute to the EU’s budget this year will be around 15 million euros lower. In 2006, the Czech Republic received some 20 million euros from the EU’s budget surplus, but 2007 saw the lowest budget surplus in the EU’s history, and so returns were down across the continent.

Number of foreign workers up in first quarter

Photo: European Commission
The number of foreign workers in the Czech Republic grew in the first quarter to over 255,000. Almost 15,400 foreigners arrived in the Czech Republic to work in the first three months of this year, suggests data released by the ministry of labour and social affairs this week. The largest group of foreign workers hails from Slovakia, with over 100,000 Slovaks working in this country. In the first quarter, however, the number of Slovaks working here actually dropped by 300. The number of Polish workers in the Czech Republic also dipped at the start of this year. The biggest influxes of foreign workers came from Vietnam and Ukraine, with a notable rise in the number of Mongolian, Bulgarian and Romanian workers also being registered.

… And so are Czech retail sales

Czech retail sales rose higher than expected in February on the back of strong car sales, although analysts said that consumer demand is set to slow. Retail sales grew 6.3 percent year-on-year in February, from 4.1 percent in January, and compared to expectations of 4.5 percent, said the Czech statistical office. Sales of specialized goods and electronics were the main drivers behind the growth, along with food sales.

Czechs spend more time, money in malls than ever before

The statistical office’s findings are echoed by a new poll conducted by Incoma Research and the GfK Praha polling agency, which found that Czechs are spending an increasing amount of time, and money, in the country’s shopping malls. Around one third of the Czechs polled said that they spent on average more than two hours in a shopping centre, nearly three quarters said that they spend more than one hour there per visit. More than half of those polled said that they spent at least 1,500 CZK (95 USD) on a trip to the mall. But the future isn’t necessarily all that bright for the Czech Republic’s shopping outlets, increased competition is taking its toll on some of the country’s older and less well-situated malls. Twelve new shopping centres are planned to open in the Czech Republic in 2008 alone, bringing the number of malls in this country to more than 250.

Spar plans to open new chain of small city shops in Prague

Foto: archiv Radia Praha
And finally, it’s not just new shopping malls which are springing up all over the country, Austrian retail chain Spar announced on Friday that it plans to open a chain of small city shops in Prague, to reflect the growing trend for ‘quick shopping’ in the capital. Rivals Tesco and Żabka have already embarked upon such a venture, with pilot stores in busy places in the centre of Prague. Poland’s Żabka plans to open another 49 shops in Prague this year, while Tesco has plans for ten new shops in the next two years. Spar CEO Martín Hruška told the newspaper E15 that he thought this small ‘corner-shop’ model worked well, and he believed that Spar’s attempts to break into the market would prove successful.