Crossing borders for bargains: Lithuanians’ shopping exodus to Poland

Lithuanians shopping in Poland
Lithuanians shopping in Poland

Some people say they are no longer shopping in Lithuania because of price increases. They go to Poland every month or even more often. Banks estimate that Lithuanians spend millions of euros a year in Poland. However, they do not believe that this is a significant amount that would lead to falling prices in our shops, Vilija Mačiulskytė is writing at the news portal.

Laura, a reader of from Kaunas, said that she last shopped for 400 euros in Polish shops.

“The goods barely fit in the boot, and we bought a lot of vegetables and fruit, which are much cheaper in Poland. For example, a kilo of strawberries can be bought in Poland for €3, whereas in Lithuanian markets, they cost twice as much.

My daughter also bought a lot of nappies for her children, which are also cheaper in Poland. We try to buy more household goods or non-perishable food. But we still go to Polish shops every month,” she admitted.

Lithuanian flows to Poland are growing

Andrius Kamarauskas, Director of the Daily Banking Department of Šiaulių Bankas, pointed out that Lithuanians visit Polish shops even more often in the summer than at other times.

“As every year, we observe an increased flow of Lithuanian shoppers to Poland in summer. Analysing the payments made by Lithuanians in Polish supermarkets and cash transactions, we can see that since the beginning of the year, more Lithuanians have been spending money in the neighbouring country.

The main reason for this is, of course, lower prices in supermarkets. However, it is not only because of this that we are spending more in Poland – we are travelling there more during the holiday season,” said Kamarauskas.

Tadas Povilauskas, an economist at SEB Bank, estimates that in the first half of this year, customers spent almost a fifth (~19%) more in Poland than in the same period a year ago when paying by card using card readers.

“However, a large proportion of Lithuanians travelling to Poland still pay for their purchases in Polish zlotys, which they buy by exchanging euros in Poland. Therefore, the data published by Statistics Poland on foreigners’ spending in Poland is a better indicator of Lithuanians’ spending in Poland.

They show that in the first quarter of this year, Lithuanians spent 28% more than a year ago in Poland in zlotys or 26% in euros,” the economist commented.

According to Mr Povilauskas, spending in the quarter has already exceeded pre-pandemic levels

“In Q1 2023, spending in Poland in euros was 0.6% higher than in Q1 2019). However, in Lithuania, retail spending in euros was 61% higher than in Q1 2019.

Overall, according to official data, Lithuanian spending in Poland in Q1 2023 accounted for up to 2% of the total retail turnover in Lithuania, which is not a large share,” the economist said.

Most shoppers in border shops

According to Kamarauskas, on average, a shopper in Polish supermarkets spent EUR 75.91 per shopping trip – 22% more than in the same period last year.

At the same time, T. Povilauskas calculated that the amount of one SEB card payment was €90.

“As before, people go to Poland to shop for cheaper food and household goods. The data on payment card transactions of Šiaulių bankas’ clients show that the most popular places for shopping are grocery stores, household goods stores and petrol stations.

The most frequent places of payment were Suvalki, Seinai, and Augustava, which are located on the border with Lithuania”, – said A. Kamarauskas.

According to him, for Lithuanians living near the border, it has long ceased to make any difference whether they shop at a nearby store or drive a dozen or two dozen kilometres to shop in a neighbouring country.

T. Povilauskas also pointed out that, as before, shopping in Poland has the biggest negative impact on Lithuanian traders near the Polish border.

“However, for the time being, given the volume of shopping in Poland, it is unlikely that Lithuanian retailers will make pricing decisions in the near future, taking into account the Polish factor. By the way, the Polish zloty has recently strengthened against the euro (~5% since the beginning of the year), which is not a favourable factor for Lithuanian shopping in Poland,” T. Povilauskas pointed out.

Just a holiday to Poland?

At the same time, Aušrinė Mincienė, Head of Daily Banking Products at Luminor, assured that, according to the bank’s data, Poland is not the most popular foreign country for people to spend their money.

“Up to 2% of the total amount of all card transactions is spent there. However, every year in the warm season, we see a quite significant increase in bank card payments in Poland.

The country continues to be a popular destination for Lithuanians because of its easy accessibility and finances: it is easy to get to Poland by car or bus, and the cost of the journey itself is low. It offers excellent conditions for relaxation, with plenty of activities and entertainment for families. People are also attracted by the lower prices – they buy food and household goods and fill up with fuel,” commented the Bank’s representative.

Lithuanians both holiday and shop in Poland in the summer

Petras Čepkauskas, head of food direction at, a portal that monitors food prices, says that the number of Lithuanians shopping in Poland in the summer increases dramatically. This is, of course, also due to the fact that the number of holidaymakers is also increasing.

“In the second and third quarters, the flow of shoppers from Lithuania to Poland increases by 30-40%, and spending also increases. This year will be the year of tourism in Poland, as Lithuanians are beginning to appreciate that tourism services in Poland are both cheaper and more varied – from the sea to the mountains,” pointed out Mr Čepkauskas.

According to him, this is also confirmed by the depth of visits to Poland – while in the first quarter of the year, only 23% of Lithuanians enter Poland more than 30 km, the situation changes in the summer, with the number of such travellers doubling or even tripling.

It confirms that Lithuanians are indeed attracted to Poland by cheaper goods, especially food, which is, on average, 30% cheaper in Poland.

“Of course, to take advantage of the price differences, shoppers have to do their homework – they have to look at the publications of the chains they go to and download apps.

Otherwise, the savings will not be significant because, during promotions and in Lithuania, the networks offer an average of 30% discounts. If we compare normal prices in Poland with promotional prices in Lithuania, the difference is 10-15%.” – The interlocutor said.

He notes that the most popular and most cost-effective products are meat, dairy products, various other food products, household chemicals, hygiene products, tobacco and alcohol.

P. Čepkauskas recently drew attention to official Polish statistics on how many Lithuanians visit Poland and how much money they spend there.

If these figures are to be believed, in the first quarter of this year alone, more than 1 million visits were made from Lithuania to Poland – an average of almost one in three people in the country at least once.

“We left more than 310 million zlotys – around €66 million. For some reason, we are not celebrating because this is a five-year record for the first quarter – in 2019, the most successful year. The year before, we left 281 million zlotys – 65 million euros, which means that 2023 will break all records for spending in Poland because the first quarter is always the weakest,” predicted Mr Čepkauskas.

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