The modest growth in Hungary's retail trade turnover can be attributed to base effects and to purchases brought forward because of the VAT increase, from 25% to 27% , in January, TakarékBank analyst Gergely Suppan told MTI on Friday.
Retail sales in Hungary grew a calendar-adjusted 1.5% yr/yr in December and were up 0.1% from November according to data adjusted for seasonal and calendar effects, the Central Statistics Office said on Friday. 2011 retail sales were up 0.2% from a year earlier. Last time they grew was in 2006.
Suppan noted that retail sales grew only slightly for the entire last year. He said he expects to see a decline this year - possibly at 1.5% - due to the government austerity measures and the tax changes, after retail trade stabilized in 2011.
General secretary of the National Trade Association (OKSZ) György Vámos told MTI that retail trade showed an uneven performance in 2011, with slightly better sales in the second half than in the first. The 2.3% growth registered in the category of industrial goods counts as a considerable increase compared to the previous months, he said, noting that these sales grew yr/yr in October and November as well.
Looking ahead, Vámos said OKSZ expects the first half of this year to be difficult, but if the government manages to conclude an IMF/EU agreement that brings stabilization and the international environment improves, and the burdens of a large numbers of forex borrowers are eased, chances are that consumption could remain stable in 2012.