Lithuania has few large shopping centres or malls compared to other EU countries, according to market researchers with the amount of retail space per capita at the bottom of the list in Europe. Vilnius would need to increase its retail and shopping space by 60% to match the amount of shopping available in Tallinn for example.
The growth in spending is being driven by higher wages and increased purchasing power of consumers, but also by other factors such as growing remittances from Lithuanians emigrants working abroad, according to Professor Alfred Šapkauskienė of Kaunas Technical University Economics and Business Department.
However, the total amount that the average Lithuanian spent on purchases in total last year lagged behind other countries at around €2,350 annually. This is below both Latvian and Estonian consumers, and about five times less than what Norwegians and Swiss spend. But the level of growth, according to analysts, is impressive.
Retail experts say the growing spending is driven by the desire of Lithuanians to improve their social status by exhibiting their new purchases and goods.
“From 2014 to 2015, customer expenditure in Lithuania increased by 7%, and this is the third place in Europe. Lithuanians are spending more and more money,” said Lina Purlytė, Euromonitor International spokeswoman.
It is expected that this growing consumer spending will drive increases in the development of retail outlets and shopping malls, but these will mainly be concentrated in Vilnius.
In Lithuania for each customer there is about one square metre of retail space, which includes large and small shops, gas stations and other places. This rate is lower than in Latvia and Estonia, many times lower than in Western countries.