What to expect this year is the eternal question you ask yourself every year at this time. Only that this year the big picture is getting less and less clear.
I think small and medium-sized companies will trade another good year as the unemployment remains low, and the consequences of global trade wars, stock market volatility and a downturn in production outputs are going to have a limited influence on local markets this year.
We still have the 2008 financial crisis fresh in our memory, especially how it came out of nowhere in the midst of a steaming economy. This time around it’s going to be different. We have learned our lesson, at least to some extent. Though let’s remember that activities starting this year have already been planned, negotiated and budgeted for several years, but are about to be unveiled only now. It stands to reason that, given the changing economic mood, they may come across as overly optimistic now.
I am excited to experience the atmosphere and mood at the MIPIM real estate fair coming up shortly in Cannes – what do investors, developers and agents think about the near and medium-term future for Poland, CEE and the world in general. MIPIM in Cannes in March is usually a good indicator of what’s to come, so this is a good place to map in your journal if you are, like me, interested in both micro and macroeconomic trends.
We will also be looking closely at some key indicators, such as interest rate hikes or lack thereof from both ECB and FED. We may also have to look for other indicators here to confirm whether inflation and productivity parameters are in line with expectations.
In Poland, this year will see the Sunday trade ban expand to another 12 days. I hear from retailers that this is going to be tough and the extra opening hours on weekday evenings are not going to compensate for it any more. Who will be the winners and losers in this gamble, will online shopping further be strengthening and taking a bigger share of the pie? This is an important question I will investigate in the coming months, as I meet more business leaders from both sides of the table.
Exciting times are ahead. On the one hand, be prepared to tighten the belt, but on the other side – be open to opportunities and have a lean and agile organization to quickly snap up the opportunities as they appear. Because they will continue to appear this year.
By MORTEN LINDHOLM