Retail trade sees 6.5% turnover rise in February
In February 2018, the volume of sales in retail shops, according to both raw and calendar-adjusted data, grew by 6.5% compared to the same month last year, according to a first estimate of monthly retail data from the Central Statistical Office (KSH). Sales growth slowed from 7.8% in January.
The volume of sales, adjusted for calendar effects, rose by 3.8% in specialized and non-specialized food shops, by 8.5% in non-food retail shops, and by 9.8% in automotive fuel retail.
In January–February 2018, retail sales rose an unadjusted 7.2% compared to the first two months of 2017, and were up 7.1% according to calendar-adjusted data. Adjusted food sales were up 4.1%, non-food sales climbed 10.5%, and fuel sales rose 8.9% over the two-month period.
Commenting on the KSH estimate to online economic news portal vg.hu, ING Bank macroeconomic analyst Péter Virovácz noted that an improvement compared to January was seen only in retail sales of automotive fuel. The 9.8% year-on-year rise in fuel sales represented a dynamic growth not seen since 2015, he noted. He attributed the favorable start to the year in this segment on the one hand to the February reduction in fuel prices, and on the other hand to general economic growth increasingly making its effects felt in a pickup in turnover in the transport sector.
Virovácz added that although retail data for the year so far indicate a better start to 2018 than last year, trade has still slowed somewhat compared to the last quarter of 2017. He noted that the governmentʼs distribution of Erzsébet meal vouchers to pensioners at the end of March, combined with the boost from early Easter retail sales, may yet generate an increase in March retail turnover.
TakarékBank analyst Gergely Suppan, cited by state news wire MTI, said retail sales growth could remain over 6% in the coming months, but projected a slowdown in the second half of the year because of a high base. He put full-year growth at 5.5%.
The KSH will publish a second, more detailed estimate of retail trade figures for February on April 24. A first estimate of March retail figures follows on May 4.
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