Retail sales in Hungary climbed 6.7% year on year in December, the Central Statistical Office (KSH) said. Adjusted for calendar year effects, retail sales increased by 6.1%. Adjusted food sales rose 4.7%, while non-food sales climbed by 8.6% and vehicle fuel sales were up 2.6%. For the full year, retail sales rose 6.0%, as food sales increased by 3.4%, non-food sales climbed 9.2% and vehicle fuel sales were up 6.0%. In absolute terms, full-year retail sales came to 12,250 billion forints (EUR 36.9bn). Food sales reached 5,536 billion forints, non-food sales stood at 4,698 billion and vehicle fuel sales were 2,016 billion.
Commenting on the data, a state secretary of the innovation and technology ministry said that retail sales have been growing steadily for six and a half years, peaking above a monthly 1,000 billion forints for nine consecutive months between April and December 2019. The Christmas shopping season propelled volume in December to 1,250 billion, Péter Cseresnyés added. Recent government measures, wage hikes and the renewed family support system has left more money in people’s pockets, he said.
Analysts said trends in 2019 had followed expectations and growth this year would be steady, too. K&H Bank analyst Dávid Horváth said steady growth was fuelled by non-food sales. Horváth forecasted growth in 2020 to be 4-5%, with inflation over 3% and slower wage growth holding back retail sales growth. Gergely Suppan of Takarékbank said the end-of-year boost in retail sales was also bolstered by robust bonuses in the public sector. Suppan said retail growth could fall to 4.8% in 2020, with the construction of new homes and the family protection action plan possibly giving the sector a boost. Erste Bank’s Orsolya Nyeste noted that nominal wages have grown while unemployment fell further. Nyeste also forecasted slightly slower growth in the retail sector. Erste analysts expect a GDP growth of 3.6% next year, driven partly by domestic consumption.