Retail sales in Hungary grew by an annual 8.4% in February, the Central Statistical Office (KSH) said. Growth picked up from 5.4% in January, reaching the highest level in just over a year. Adjusted for calendar year effects, sales in February also rose by an annual 8.4%. Adjusted food sales were up 4.8%, non-food sales grew by 10.8% and vehicle fuel sales by 13.8%. In Jan-Feb, sales increased by an annual 6.9% based both on adjusted and unadjusted data. Adjusted food sales increased by 4.4%, non-food sales by 8.5% and vehicle fuel sales by 10.4%.
The increase in retail sales over February was fuelled by rising wages which in turn are largely connected with the current labour shortage, market analysts told MTI after the KSH data release. Domestic consumption remains the driving force of economic growth, they said. Dávid Németh of K&H Bank pointed to higher household consumption on the back of the sharp rise in real wages. Wage growth, he added, is expected to continue this year and retail sales are likely to grow by around 5% in 2019. András Horváth of Takarékbank said the headline figure outperformed expectations, noting that growth in retail sales had accelerated in February considerably. Household consumption is not only fuelling retail sales but major growth is also likely in hospitality, domestic tourism, leisure, entertainment and other services.