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Hungary’s e-tail sector expands fast

Hungary’s e-tail market has expanded by more than 150% in four years, with several analysts underestimating last year’s growth, as net turnover of web shops grew from EUR 0.8 billion in 2014 to EUR 2.1 bln in 2018, according to analysis by internet research firm eNET.

Chart by eNET

E-traders performed well last year, as Hungary’s online retail trade volume grew by 23%. Based on the sales figures of more than 5,000 e-tailers, the share of online sales reached 7% of total retail sales, which corresponds to 13% growth compared to the previous year. Any further expansion of Hungary’s e-tail sector will be defined by the intensity of purchases, rather than the growing number of new online shoppers, eNET says.

The change is shown by the increase in the average shopping cart value and in online turnover per customer. In 2017, the average amount spent online was EUR 42-43, which rose to EUR 47-48 in 2018. The average annual online turner per customer went up from EUR 354-355 to EUR 384-385.

Information technology remained the most popular product category, followed by entertainment electronics, sportswear and other clothing, and home furnishings and decorations.

More customers ordering from abroad

Half of all online shoppers now order goods from abroad; their number is 3.1 million, up from 1.7 million two years ago. Hungarian internet users may have spent EUR 1.2-1.3 bln in foreign web shops and online marketplaces last year, according to eNET. This means that the overall value of e-tail transactions initiated in Hungary exceeded EUR 3.1 bln in 2018.

Some 91% of adult internet users in Hungary now shop online. About one in four or five customers buy food and household goods online. The online turnover of FMCG products now makes up one sixth of Hungary’s total e-tail business volume. The dynamic growth (18% from 2015 to 2016, 35% from 2016 to 2017, and 27% from 2017 to 2018) is expected to continue in the near future; the segment is expanding faster than the entire market, so its weight is increasing. The tendency is fortified by the launch of Spar’s online marketplace in May, eNET says.

An increasing number of conventional retail chains have launched web shops, with the concomitant negative effects of what eNET calls cut-throat competition, such as free delivery instead of improving logistics. This has resulted in problems such as massive delays in year-end parcel deliveries. The competition has also resulted in the start of market consolidation, primarily indicated by the planned merger of eMAG Hungary and Extreme Digital.

A reshuffling is foreseen to continue in the coming years, with mergers and cooperation agreements between both the largest players and mid-sized, vertical online stores, notes eNET.