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Christmas still sells

Although the country’s economy is in a slump and the outlook isn’t good, this didn’t discourage Hungarian shoppers from reaching deep into their pockets during the holiday season.

A survey published by the Hungarian Council of Shopping Centers (MBSz) shows that sales volumes remained unchanged in the 2012 shopping season when compared to the pre-Christmas rush in 2011.

In fact, shopping centers received on average 3% more visitors than across the year. On some days, some 30,000 to 40,000 people visited large retail facilities, showing that general consumer confidence is shifting towards centers over smaller units, said MBSz secretary general Judit Balatoni. 

Customers generally went bargain hunting for IT products and electronics and spent a maximum of HUF 10,000 on individual gifts, MBSz said. The composition of shoppers was largely unchanged, with malls that are easily accessible via public transport being the go-to place for younger people with families, but the older group of those above 55 also increased its share.

Besides the usual gadgets, customers also snapped up huge volumes of various coupons and gift vouchers. In some cases, sales rose by 20% on the year, with around 50% of voucher sales in general being concentrated in the Christmas period. MBSz noted that coupons are traditionally popular since they allow shoppers to take advantage of the various discounts when the holiday frenzy subsides.

Head of MBSz Gyula Gyalay-Korpos is moderately optimistic regarding the near future, stressing that the market has bottomed out and participants are becoming more active.