Romania’s retail sales volume index expanded by 9.2% y/y in May, the statistics office reported. The annual growth accelerated from 4.5% y/y in April – when the sales were however pushed down slightly by in-advance purchase of car fuels ahead of the April 1 excise tax hike*.
On a broader perspective, the sales index adjusted for workdays and seasonality, is still some 10% below its pre-crisis peak level. Notably however, the sales of non-food goods have fully recovered, while the sales of food items are 15% below the pre-crisis level. Sales of car fuels are also by a significant 12% below the pre-crisis level.
Compared to the encouraging 9.3% annual advance of sales recorded in Q1, the advance seen in May is marginally lower. But corrected for the pattern in car fuel purchases ahead and after the excise tax hike as of April 1, the expansion in May is actually stronger.
The sales of food items expanded by 6.6% y/y in May compared to only 6% y/y in Q1, while the sales of non-food items strengthened by 15.9% y/y in May from 13.1% y/y in Q1. There were only the car fuel sales that lost momentum to a 1.6% y/y advance in May after climbing 7.2% y/y in Q1. The impact of the higher excise tax on car fuel sales could be permanent as freight/passenger international road transporters commented about seeking cheaper fuel in neighbouring countries.
The combined sales index calculated for April-May increased by 6.9% y/y – which is still a robust expansion, more in line with the modest rise in wages and employment and thus more sustainable than the 9.3% y/y advance in Q1.
* Car fuel sales contracted by 6.1% y/y in April after the unusually steep 17.8% y/y advance in March – before the excise tax hike was hiked. The purchase of car fuel in advance in March also artificially increased the retail sales figures for March and Q1.
|Total, swda* q/q, m/m||n.a.||n.a.||n.a.||n.a.||n.a.||4.9%||-3.0%||1.9%||n.a.|
|A. Food stores||-3.8%||-9.6%||-6.8%||2.4%||-0.1%||6.0%||10.6%||6.6%||8.6%|
|B. Non-food stores||-8.1%||-9.0%||1.7%||1.6%||3.6%||13.1%||6.1%||15.9%||10.8%|
|C. Car fuel||-19.7%||3.3%||-1.6%||6.2%||-3.6%||7.2%||-6.1%||1.6%||-2.3%|
|Source: INS, *seasonally and workday adjusted|
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