Portugal - Selling and buying
Reaching the consumers
- advertising (TV and radio, due to car journeys)
- the value for money of after-sales service for cars and household appliances
- price (especially for food and hygiene purchases)
- social status symbols (clothes, fashion, cars)
- the environmental aspect is still secondary, but is becoming more important among young people, who are more receptive to the awareness campaigns in the press.
- brand names, associated with this aspect of social status.
The majority of Portuguese people are conservative, loyal to brands (especially for clothes, less so for foodstuffs). They are impulsive consumers, but less so at the present time, as the level of household debt has reached alarming heights, which is slowing down consumption. Consumer credit harasses the Portuguese with invasive advertising. By tradition, and also through a lack of a real estate rental market, the Portuguese invest in bricks and mortar, and for that they seek a bank loan, and borrow to pay for cars too. A large proportion of monthly household income is usually spent on paying for these services.
Things are changing with regards to preference for domestic or foreign goods; apart from wine and cheese (for which the Portuguese have difficulty choosing imported products), preference is almost always for imported goods. An awareness campaign has recently been launched to encourage people to buy domestic products.
The institutional buyer is quality conscious and very sensitive to pricing. Most tenders consider price first and quality second.
4 large groups share the market:
- the Modelo-Continente group which belongs to the Portuguese Sonae and which specialises in hypermarkets; it has become the leader of food distribution in Portugal.
- the Jeronimo Martins group: with a turnover of 3.4 billion euros in 2004, it is the second largest distributor in Portugal with the names Pingo Doce and Feira Nova.
- the French group Auchan, present in Portugal from 1970 onwards, had a turnover of 1.04 billion euros in 2003.
- the French group Carrefour, with a turnover of 470 million euros in 2004 and which has 1 hypermarket and 270 supermarkets.
The other major trend over the last few years has been the development of specialized hypermarkets: FNAC, Bricodis, Habitat, Ikea have opened.
These developments show that for the years to come there will be a constant decrease in traditional commerce and a growth in the modern forms of distribution especially hypermarkets and supermarkets which will extend their products and services more and more in the non-food sector.
Market access procedures
The main non-Customs barrier is at the level of agricultural products, ensuing from the application of the CAP (Common Agricultural Policy).
The Common Customs Tariff (CCT) of the European Union is applied to goods from outside the EU. In general, duties are not very high, especially for industrial products (4.2% on average).
For goods of a value under 1 000kg or 1 000 euros, a verbal declaration at Customs, and presenting the invoice, is sufficient.
For higher values, you must deposit at the Customs office:
1) a brief declaration (air or maritime manifest) to conclude the collection of the goods.
2) a common law declaration (SAD, single administrative document), as well as the accompanying documents to allow their clearance.
The SAD form can be obtained from Chambers of Commerce or an approved printer. A computerized Customs clearance platform (SOFI: International freight computer system) can be accessed in Customs offices or in some Chambers of Commerce.
In the case of deliveries and purchases within the European Community, the declaration of exchange of goods (DEB) or Intrastat declaration must be sent to the Customs service.
As part of the "SAFE" standards advocated by the World Customs Organization (WCO), the European Union has set up a new system of import controls, the "Import Control System" (ICS), which aims to secure the flow of goods at the time of their entry into the customs territory of the EU. This control system, part of the Community Program eCustomer, has been in effect since January 1, 2011. Since then, operators are required to pass an Entry Summary Declaration (ENS) to the customs of the country of entry, prior to the introduction of goods into the customs territory of the European Union.
The Modernized Customs Code (MCC) of the European Union simplifies various procedures such as introducing a paperless environment, centralized clearance, and more. For more information check the EU’s Customs website.
Organizing goods transport
Portuguese ports handle more than 60 million tonnes of goods each year.
The road network is poor and considerable improvement is necessary.
Goods are mainly transported by rail (2,585 million tonnes-km). Substantial investment is being considered to improve the electrification and rehabilitation of the main long distance routes : Lisbon-Porto, Lisbon-the Algarve and towards Spain to the North and East.