Serbian per capita consumer spending is forecast to rise by a modest 13.4% between 2013 and 2017, compared with a regional growth average of 39%. The country comes second to last out of 10 in BMI's Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) Retail Risk/Reward Ratings, Highlighting its weak performance relative to its peers. Although Serbia is unlikely to join the EU before 2018, the accession process itself will provide the government with a policy anchor and development funds. We also expect investors to be enticed by the prospect of eventual access to the single market.
The outlook for Serbia's retail sector is unimpressive, however the longer term potential of the sector supported by EU accession talks which are approaching their final stages. Investment in the retail sector is already up on the assumption that an agreement will be reached, but we expect both household spending and investment across the sector to be bolstered by the conclusion of a deal.
- Household spending will fall by a marginal 0.33% from 2013 to 2014; however we anticipate a recovery in 2015 to allow spending to reach US$34bn.
- Food and non-alcoholic drinks will remain the largest are of spending, with a forecast of US$9.1bn in 2014, although this will measure as a slight 1.3% decline over 2013.
- Among all retail categories, consumer electronics will be the outperformer through to 2017 in growth terms, with sales rising 28.4% between 2013 and 2017 to US$1.58bn.