Budapest, February 3 (MTI) – Retail sales in Hungary grew by an annual 5 percent in December 2015, based on preliminary data, up from 4.8 percent in November 2015, the Central Statistical Office (KSH) said on Wednesday.
December sales rose by 4.5 percent when adjusted for calendar year effects.
Adjusted food sales were up by 3.4 percent in December, non-food sales climbed by 6.4 percent and fuel sales increased by 3.7 percent.
In 2015, retail sales were up by 5.5 percent according to unadjusted and rose by 5.6 percent according to adjusted data.
KSH noted that legislation requiring most big retailers to remain closed on Sundays came into force in the middle of March 2015, but said that more time and data were needed to gauge the effects of the rule.
Commenting on the full year of 2015 in which sales rose by an annual 5.5 percent, Aron Mark Lenner, an economy deputy state secretary, told public broadcaster M1 that the year had been “outstanding”. He said the December data came in line with expectations. Growth in food and daily consumer items rose at a more modest rate than consumer durables, indicating that consumer confidence is very high. He noted the expansion in online retail sales, which grew at a rate of 20 percent every month.
The official said that the record-high employment rate last year and the increase in real wages had helped the growth of retail sales. He added that this year is expected to be positive, with expected growth in retail sale of around 5 percent, given the reduction in the personal income tax rate and broader-based family tax allowances.
Head of the National Trade Association (OKSZ), Gyorgy Vamos, told MTI that both the December and full-year figures were significantly higher than the European Union average. He reckoned that the retail sector would still be buoyant this year but at a slower clip of 3-4 percent growth.
Takarekbank analyst Gergely Suppan said that sales would slow down due to last year’s high base and they would expand by 3.7 percent.
Erste Bank analysts Vivien Barczel and Gergely Urmossy said the real rise in net wage would boost household demand and they forecast an annual full-year figure of 4-5 percent for 2016.