Hungarian retail sales shrug off Sunday shopping ban to accelerate in April

By bne IntelliNews June 3, 2015

Hungarian calendar-adjusted retail sales grew 5.3% on an annual basis in April, accelerating from 5.1% in March, statistics office KSH reported in a preliminary estimate released on June 3. The reading was a touch below market expectations for a rise of 5.4%.

The April data is the first to fully take into account the Sunday shopping ban that came into force in mid-March. The stronger growth indicates the ban did not negatively affected aggregate consumer spending, though it might be blamed for a sharp slowdown in food retail sales growth, analysts at Capital Economics point out.  

Food sales rose just 1.6%, easing from a 4% hike in March. “The much weaker food sales figure indicates that the ban may have led to a shift in consumer spending patterns. As we suggested, food and beverage spending in supermarkets was among the expenditure most likely to be affected by the ban,” the analysts wrote in a note.

Growth in sales of non-food products, on the other hand, quickened to 7.8% from 5.6% a month earlier. Fuel sales also grew at a faster pace, rising by 9.3% after advancing 8.7% in March.

In cumulative terms, Hungary’s retail sales grew 9.6% in the first four months of 2015. The statistics office will release detailed data on June 25.

The ongoing robust growth in retail sales suggests household consumption contributed strongly to first-quarter GDP growth. Flash data released by the statistics office last month showed the economy expanded 3.4% on the year and 0.6% on the quarter in Q1. KSH is due to announce a second estimate of first-quarter GDP data on June 5.

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