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Panic buying drives retail sales in February

In February 2020, the volume of sales in retail shops increased by 10.9% according to raw data and by 11.3% when adjusted for calendar effects compared to the same period of 2019, according to data by the Central Statistical Office (KSH).

According to KSH, panic buying accounted for 5.7 percentage points of the 11.3% year-on-year increase in total retail sales.

The volume of sales, adjusted for calendar effects, rose by 10.7% in specialized and non-specialized food shops, by 11.4% in non-food retail shops and by 1.8% in automotive fuel retailing.

In January–February 2020, the volume of sales, also according to calendar adjusted data, was 9.5% higher than in the corresponding period of the previous year.

KSH says that panic buying at the end of February is estimated to account for 5.7 percentage points of the 11.3% increase in total retail sales, including 7 percentage points of the 11% volume increase in specialized and non-specialized food retailing and about 10 percentage points of the 16% expansion in pharmaceutical, medical goods and cosmetics retailing.

The volume of mail order and internet retailing accounting for 6.7% of all retail sales and involving a wide range of goods rose by 33%, continuing a multi-year expansion. Sales in motor vehicles and motor vehicle parts and accessories stores not belonging to retail data increased by 17%.

In February, sales in the national retail trade network as well as in mail order and internet retailing were HUF 957 billion at current prices. Food, drinks and tobacco stores accounted for 47% of all retail sales, while the relevant figures for non-food retail shops and the network of petrol stations were 37% and 16% respectively.

Over the first two months of 2020, the volume of sales in retail shops increased by 9.5% (calendar adjusted) compared to the same period of 2019. The volume of sales rose by 7.8% in specialized and non-specialized food shops, by 12.6% in non-food retail trade and by 1.6% in automotive fuel retailing.