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Retail sales down 0.3 percent in November

Retail sales in Hungary edged down an annual 0.3 percent in November as vehicle fuel and non-food sales dropped, the Central Statistical Office (KSH) said on Thursday. The decline slowed from a 2.4 percent year-on-year fall in October.

Adjusted for calendar year effects, retail sales declined by 0.8 percent. In monthly comparison, seasonally and calendar-adjusted retail sales were up 1.1 percent.

Adjusted food sales rose by 1.8 percent, but non-food sales dropped by 1.0 percent and vehicle fuel sales fell by 9.4 percent as an evening curfew to contain the spread of the coronavirus came into force.

Sales of clothing and footwear dropped by an unadjusted 26.7 percent and sales of furniture and appliances fell by 19.0 percent. Sales in pharmacies rose by 13.5 percent and internet and mail-order sales jumped by 47.3 percent.

In absolute terms, retail turnover came to 1,109 billion forints (EUR 3.1bn) in November.

For the period January-November, retail sales rose by 0.2 percent, according to both unadjusted and adjusted data. Adjusted food sales were up 3.2 percent, non-food sales increased 0.7 percent and vehicle fuel sales dropped by 9.8 percent.

Commenting on the data, a state secretary of the innovation and technology ministry said retail sales are expected to pick up again in 2021. The sector expanded for 81 consecutive months before the coronavirus pandemic, Peter Cseresnyes noted.

Government measures have cushioned the sector’s fall significantly, Cseresnyes said, as proven by the relatively mild decline it showed last November. The overall traffic in the first 11 months was, in fact, slightly higher than the year before, he said. With the December figures, 2020 retail figures might see a slight improvement compared to 2019, he added.

Takarekbank chief analyst Gergely Suppan said households’ caution because of the second wave of the pandemic and a slight deterioration of the labour market, along with a high base, caused the decline in retail sales in November.

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