Retailing in Romania: From Statist to Nearly Capitalist
The Romanian retail sector has undergone an extremely interesting evolution within the past years. Prior to 1990 the typical image of virtually every Romanian store, especially of food stores, was one of shelves almost empty, of employees telling shoppers that merchandise stocks would arrive within several days, of cold and somber colors, or of endless queues in front of food stores. Nowadays, however, we witness a profound “rearrangement” of these clichés. Shops abound in foreign and Romanian goods, the atmosphere is very warm and inviting, attracting customers, the staff is helpful and friendly and the queues moved to the cash register where customers wait patiently with baskets and shopping carts full of products. There has also been a significant increase in the number of stores over the last twenty-odd years. Food retail chains such as Metro, Lidl, Kaufland, Profi, etc. and non-food retailers such as H&M, C&A, Zara, etc. have gradually made their presence felt in Romania. Romanians seem to have adapted well to the new market conditions. Not only do they prefer various new food and non-food store formats, but they also visit frequently the new temples of consumerism—shopping centers.
In providing a review of the Romanian retailing, the paper traces its evolution from statist economy typical of the 1970s and 1980s to the capitalist economy. It also points out the changes undergone by this sector (changes of peoples’ consumption habits, diversification of forms and ways of meeting needs, increase of territorial dispersion of shops etc.)
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