Hungarian retail sales rose faster in December than in the previous month as consumers stepped up drug purchases in anticipation of price increases from January.
Retail sales rose 3.3% from the same month of 2005, accelerating from 2.2% in November, the Budapest-based statistics office said in an e-mailed statement today. The data exceeded the median forecast of 2% by seven economists in a Bloomberg survey. The monthly increase was 0.5%. Hungarian retail sales growth has been slowing since August as Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsány raised taxes and utility bills to reduce budget deficit. The measures resulted in higher prices for products such as natural gas, electricity, medicines and public transport. The increases drove the inflation rate to a five-year high. For the full year of 2006, retail sales rose 4.4%, the slowest pace since at least 2002. In December, sales of pharmaceutical products were 11.1% higher than a year earlier. (Bloomberg)