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Hungarian Holiday Season Shopping Habits

Shopping malls and online store are both popular when it comes to doing the Christmas shopping in Hungary, with the buying season extending, new surveys on our seasonal purchasing habits suggest.

Regardless of the bad-tempered crowds and the hours of queuing, shopping malls remain the main destinations for Christmas shoppers, according to a survey on holiday shopping habits by online classified ads site Jófogás.hu.  

Only a third of the respondents said they planned to do shopping online: 68% will stick with shops, the survey says. Most (36%) start shopping in early December, but a surprising 30% start even earlier in the fall. Some 16% say they will do it one or two weeks before Christmas, while a startling fifth plan to leave it to last minute. (For more on the Jófogás survey, see “Christmas Carries Annual Toy Market on Shoulders”, opposite.)

Though many people opt for brick and mortar shops, online stores have nothing to complain about. Some stores can generate up to 60% of their annual online turnover during the festive season, though market average is likely to be at 35-37% this year, according to research by GKI and Árukereső.hu.  

Online retail revenues in 2018 will exceed HUF 400 million, the study says with retail sale seeing a 16-17% increase between November 16 and December 21 compared to the same period a year ago.  

Seeking Inspiration

To find the perfect present, three-quarters of internet users trawl online shopping channels, GKI finds. Thumbing through stores’ brochures (49%) and window-shopping (35%) are also popular. Those polled plan to give presents to up to seven people, the findings show.

The season kicked off with Black Friday on November 23, which is expected to result in more than HUF 40 million in online sales – a 50% increase compared to a year ago, GKI calculates. However, unlike last year when sales centered on one day, this year’s Black Friday extends to a two-week period, bringing forward many of the purchases that would otherwise be done in Christmas, GKI notes.  

The real rush for the most popular categories – toys, beauty products, clothing and fashion items, and books – will start later in December: average spending per online customer will be around HUF 41,000, according to GKI.  

Sales generally increase with the change in weather and collections rather than the festive season, says Ivett Szemrád, founder/owner of Zenda FSHN – a women clothes boutique that manages its customer base online, though the actual sales takes place in a shop.  

“When summer kicked in, customers flocked to the shop,” Szemrád says. She expects the same will happen when it finally turns cold. Shopping malls are said to generate five times more sales during Christmas but that is because many people are wandering in under the pressure to find something, Szemrád says. “In my case, it is different, customers come with a purpose,” says Szemrád, whose shop saw a 30-40% increase during last December.  

The Christmas Table

Spar Hungary generates about 10% of its annual turnover in December, which has been its most prosperous period in the past couple of years. The average consumer basket grows by 20-25% during the holiday season while the number of customers increases by about 3%, says Mark Makzelka, head of communications.

Opening hours are flexible to serve customer needs; based on the experience of previous years, they are likely be extended on December 22 and 23. Among the most sought-after products are beauty products in gift packaging, toys, table decorations and branded spirits. Small household appliances are equally popular, as are televisions, and gaming devices. When it comes to actual groceries for the Christmas table, fish, eggs, duck, turkey, bacon and smoked goods are on top of most people’s shopping lists.

Christmas is an important period for Hungarian wineries as well. “These days, far more bottles end up in people’s baskets, so it is not uncommon for our us to load 150,000 bottles per day on our trucks,” says Máté Varga, managing director of Varga Winery.  

The balance tilts towards more expensive wines, but the ratio of whites, reds and roses does not really change for the holiday season, remaining basically the same as during the rest of the year, he says.

Christmas Spending

According to data from the the Central Statistical Office (KSH), average spending per household in December 2016 on fish was HUF 3,585, while it came to HUF 6,669 on books, HUF 7,772 on spirits, and HUF 9,197 on toys.

Most Popular Gifts for 2018

Every second gift is expected to be an item of clothing this year, followed by:
•    games (44%);
•    beauty and cosmetic products (42%);
•    home decor, DIY and home furnishings (31%);
•    books, movies and music (27%);
•    consumer electronics (23%);
•    smartphones, tablets and accessories (23%);
•    household and kitchen utensils (22%);
•    computing devices (19%);
•    watches, jewelry, fashion accessories (18%)
For young internet users, vouchers (15%) and digital products and subscriptions (10%) are the most popular gifts. 
Source: GKI Digital