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Retail sales fall 3.2 percent in December, edge down 0.2 percent for year

Retail sales in Hungary fell by annual 3.2 percent in December, the Central Statistical Office (KSH) said.

Adjusted for calendar year effects, retail sales fell by 4 percent, as food sales increased by 1.9 percent, but non-food sales declined 9.3 percent and vehicle fuel sales dropped by 11.9 percent.

For the full year, retail sales edged down 0.2 percent. Annual retail sales have fallen every month since the start of the coronavirus crisis, with the exception of a couple of months in the summer, and March, when a rush on supermarkets ahead of a lockdown lifted food sales.

Food sales rose by 3 percent for the year, but non-food sales fell by 0.4 percent and vehicle fuel sales dropped 10 percent. Clothing and footwear sales dropped 24.5 percent, furniture and appliance sales were down by 9.9 percent and sales of computers and peripherals slipped 2.8 percent. Pharmaceutical sales climbed 5.7 percent and online and mail order sales jumped 41.1 percent.

In absolute terms, sales came to a total of 12,586 billion forints (EUR 35.4bn).

Erste Bank chief analyst Orsolya Nyeste said December retail sales data came as an “unpleasant surprise”. Mandatory shop closing times, ahead of an evening curfew, and cautious spending amidst concerns of unemployment against the backdrop of the second wave of the pandemic may have impacted sales, she added.

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