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Retail sales up 6% y-o-y in 2018

Sales of retail shops grew an unadjusted 3.7% year-on-year in December 2018, and by 6.0% in the whole year of 2018 according to both raw and calendar-adjusted data, shows a first reading of data released by the Central Statistical Office (KSH) on Tuesday.

Adjusted for calendar year effects, retail sales were up 4.1% in December 2018. The volume of sales, also adjusted for calendar effects, did not change in specialized and non-specialized shops selling food, drinks and tobacco. Sales grew by 8% in non-food retail shops, and by 4.9% in automotive fuel retail in December.

In 2018 as a whole, the volume of sales –  according to both raw and calendar-adjusted data – was 6.0% higher than in the previous year. Sales were up 3.4% over the year in specialized and non-specialized food shops, by 9.1% in non-food retail, and by 6.4% in automotive fuel retail.

Speaking to state news wire MTI, ING Bankʼs chief analyst Péter Virovácz noted that the headline increase in December retail sales was the lowest monthly rate of the entire year, despite the holiday season, suggesting recent strong growth may not be sustainable.

TakarékBank analyst Gergely Suppan also noted the slowdown around the holidays, observing that stagnating food sales in retail shops show Hungarians must have eaten out more.

The KSH will publish a second reading of retail data for December, and for 2018 as a whole, on February 21.