Annual GDP growth in 2011 across the Baltics is predicted at 3.5% and consumer confidence is rising with one of the region's major shopping center owners and operators, Linstow Centre Management, reporting uninterrupted turnover growth over the last 14 months in all six Baltic properties it manages.
Speaking at the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC) Baltic States Retail Real Estate Conference, Marcis Budlevskis, Lease and Business Development Director at Linstow Centre Management, and Chair of the ICSC Baltic National Committee, said: "The trend is clear, demand is there and the numbers of visitors to the region is increasing, boosting shopping center footfall further. If the Baltics only had to worry about itself then I would be very confident."
Emerging from the economic downturn, the Baltic States are seeing manufacturing growth up on 2009 although it has leveled off recently and the region is well aware that it is not immune to what is happening elsewhere across Europe.
Tõnu Palm, Chief Economist of Nordea Bank Estonia, also speaking at the conference, said that wages are increasing at a good speed, though not as fast as inflation. He predicted that with lower external price pressures inflation is expected to decelerate in the Baltics at the fall.
"The Baltics have undergone severe adjustment (including cost cutting), during the past crisis. This means they are better prepared to weather another storm or crisis," he said. "The Baltics remain an attractive investment destination and are hence increasingly benefiting from Scandinavian interest to do business in the region."
Retailers speaking at the conference confirmed their confidence in the area. Estonian fashion retailer The Baltika group operates four retail concepts: Monton, Mosaic, Baltman and Ivo Nikkolo across the Baltics, Russia and the Ukraine, and is now seeking to expand further into Europe. Other retailers are keen to move into The Baltics, where they see untapped potential.
Dutch menswear retailer, Suitsupply, which has stores across the world including China and the United States, has stores in Riga and Vilnius and sees the potential for more. Aurora Fashion operates retail concepts Karen Millen, Oasis, Warehouse and Coast which collecti