Retail sales growth accelerates to 6.2 percent in December
According to unadjusted data, retail sales rose by 6.7 percent, picking up from 3.8 percent in the previous month. Adjusted food sales increased by 2.7 percent and non-food sales were up 8.7 percent. Vehicle fuel sales climbed by 11.5 percent.
Sales of clothing and footwear shops climbed by 36.9 percent, sales of second-hand shops increased by 34.4 percent, sales of pharmacies rose by 14.4 percent and sales of book and computer shops were up 9.5 percent. Online and mail-order sales edged up 1.4 percent from a high base. Sales of furniture and appliance stores inched down 0.6 percent.
In absolute terms, retail sales came to 1,466 billion forints (EUR 4.1bn) in December, at current prices, and 14,085 billion forints for the full year.
For the full year, food sales were up 2.2 percent, non-food sales rose by 4.9 percent and vehicle fuel sales increased by 4.9 percent.
Commenting on the data, Peter Cseresnyes, state secretary of trade policy at the Ministry of Innovation and Technology (ITM), said retail sales growth in December had reached pre-pandemic levels.
Retail sales growth reached or exceeded 6 percent in six months last year, Cseresnyes said on Facebook.
He said the government had introduced a number of measures aimed at boosting the purchasing power of households this year, citing the 13th month pension, family tax rebates and personal income tax exemptions for those under 25 as examples.
ING Bank chief analyst Peter Virovacz said the scale of the December increase in retail sales was a “big positive surprise”. Non-food sales were lifted by delayed purchases and bigger November paycheques, he added.
The fresh data suggest fourth-quarter GDP could beat expectations, lifting full-year growth over 6 percent, he said.
Takarekbank senior analyst Gergely Suppan said the December data exceeded the consensus, supported by the labour market recovery and “dynamic” wage growth, even as higher inflation and the semiconductor shortage affecting some electronics products weighed.