In 2019, the trade sector became a key driver of the growth of the national economy. However, for the third year in a row, retail growth has been declining, despite the measures taken in the country to increase household incomes. According to statistics, their effect is offset by increased demand in the country for the purchase of housing and an increase in deposits in banks. Nevertheless, in 2020, the contribution of trade to the country’s GDP is projected to increase at the level of 18.4%.
The trading industry is one of the largest and fastest growing sectors of the economy of Kazakhstan, affecting the interests of all subjects of market relations: the population, producers of goods and services, trading entrepreneurs and the state. 83.2 thousand enterprises operate in this sector, which is 2 times more than in construction – the industry, which is the second largest number of organizations.
At the end of 2019, the contribution of the trade sector to the country’s economy was 16.9%. According to this indicator, trade was ahead of the mining sector, which has long been the engine of the economy. Nevertheless, in a number of countries, the industry’s share in GDP is significantly higher than Kazakhstan, for example, in Russia, trade occupies 30% of GDP. It is obvious that the potential of the trade sector is not fully disclosed and in the long run the consumer sector can stimulate more accelerated economic growth.
Over the past three years, the growth rate of retail sales has decreased due to an increase in population demand for housing and an increase in deposits in second-tier banks
According to the results of 2019, retail trade volume reached 11.3 trillion tenge, an increase of 12.7% compared to 2018. Nevertheless, the growth rate of retail sales has been gradually decreasing since 2017, despite the incentive measures applied by the state – increasing public sector wages, increasing pension payments, maintaining inflation in the corridor of 4-6%, reducing the debt burden of the population and subsidizing interest rates on mortgages.
As statistics show, a decrease in sales intensity is associated with an increase in population demand for housing and an increase in deposits. So, according to the results of 2019, the number of home purchase transactions increased by 20%, the volume of mortgage lending – by 30%, and the accumulated savings in JSC Housing Construction Savings Bank – by 29%. In turn, deposits in second-tier banks increased by 26%. That is, in fact, the population has reduced consumer spending, reorienting them into long-term investments.
Half of the volume of retail trade falls on the cities of Almaty, Nur-Sultan and East Kazakhstan region
Over the past three years, the turnover of food and non-food products has shown unstable dynamics. So, if in 2017 the sale of food products increased by 12%, and non-food – decreased by 0.8%, then in 2018 the reverse trend is observed – the turnover of food products decreased by 1.6%, and non-food increased by 11.2% .
In 2019, sales of goods showed a more harmonious dynamics – the turnover of food products increased by 3.2%, reaching 3.8 trillion tenge, and the growth of non-food products amounted to 7.1% with a sales volume of 7.7 trillion tenge.
The traditional leader in the consumer market is traditionally the city of Almaty, where the volume of retail sales for the year increased by 19.6%, reaching 3.6 trillion tenge. Also in the TOP-3 regions are the city of Nur-Sultan with a trade volume of 1.3 trillion tenge and East Kazakhstan region with a trade turnover of 1 trillion tenge. These regions form half of the country’s retail turnover, which in monetary terms corresponds to 5.9 trillion tenge.
72% of retail turnover is provided by small enterprises and individual entrepreneurs
The trade sector in Kazakhstan is developing steadily, but the growth rate remains low. The sector remains the largest in the country’s economy, providing activities for 83.2 thousand enterprises. Nevertheless, despite the increase in sales, enterprises retain their small form – 82.6 thousand small enterprises operate in the country. And the number of medium and large enterprises has been declining over the past three years by an average of 4%, and as of January 1, 2020 their number was 372 and 167, respectively.
Accordingly, the main sales volume is formed by individual entrepreneurs – 41.9% of the total turnover, and together with small entrepreneurs – 72% of sales. The share of medium and large enterprises in retail sales was only 28%.
Since 2017, trade is also the largest employer in the country – 16% of the total employed population is involved in this sector or 1.4 million workers.
Over five years, investment in trade has grown almost 2 times
At the end of 2019, investments in fixed assets in the trade sector amounted to 234.2 billion tenge, an increase of 8.4% compared to 2018. At the same time, 90% of the funds are accounted for by the own assets of enterprises, and the remaining 10% is formed by bank loans and borrowed funds. That is, the development of the trade sector is carried out without funding from the state.
In turn, the inflow of foreign investment in trade decreased – for nine months of 2019, the volume of attracted investments amounted to 2.2 billion US dollars, while in 2017 the figure was 2.4 billion US dollars, and in 2018 – 2.6 billion US dollars.
Retail physical volume index in 2020 may reach 6.3%
The consequences of the global and financial crises of 2008 and 2015 significantly reduced the volume of the consumer market in dollar terms. If in 2013 the volume of retail sales reached 36 billion US dollars, then in 2019 the figure amounted to 30 billion US dollars.
The economic importance of the consumer market lies in the fact that retail sales are closely related to per capita GDP. That is, trade has a direct impact on the development of the national economy. At the same time, given the increase in salaries in the public sector and the growth of exports of Kazakhstani products, the trade turnover in 2020 will increase by 6.3%, which will increase the contribution of trade to the country’s GDP to 18.4%.