Retail sales down 5.9 percent

Retail sales fell by an annual 5.6 percent in February, according to unadjusted data, the Central Statistical Office (KSH) said on Friday. Based on calendar-year adjusted data, sales were down 5.9 percent February.

The data reflects a base effect from the previous February, with sales fuelled by panic buying.

Based on seasonally and calendar-adjusted data, the volume of retail trade dropped by 1.2 percent month on month.

In a month-on-month comparison, retail sales fell a seasonally- and workday-adjusted 1.2pc.

In absolute terms, retail sales came to 946 billion forints (EUR 2.6bn) for the month.

ING Bank senior analyst Peter Virovacz said the continuing decline was probably partly due to pandemic restrictions introduced in March. The trend could cause household consumption to hold back first-quarter GDP growth, he added.

Takarekbank chief analyst Gergely Suppan attributed the drop in retail sales to caution amid another wave of the pandemic, a slight deterioration in the labour market and the high base lifted by panic buying just before the start of the crisis. Sales could fall further in March because of the mandatory closure of non-essential businesses, but pick up in April, supported by re-openings and the low base, and return to pre-pandemic levels by the summer, he added.

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