Retail sales in Hungary rose by an annual 4.9% in March, the Central Statistical Office (KSH) said. Growth slowed from 8.4% in the previous month. When adjusted for calendar year effects, retail sales were up an annual 5.9% in March. Adjusted food sales were up 1.0%, non-food sales climbed by 14.3% and vehicle fuel sales rose by 14.3%. For the period January-March, retail sales rose by an adjusted 6.5% and an unadjusted 6.1% year on year. Adjusted food sales increased by 3.1%, non-food sales were up 10.6% and vehicle fuel sales climbed by 11.8%.
ING Bank senior analyst Péter Virovácz said retail sales growth in March was slower than in February and below what analysts estimated. Low food sales were responsible for the surprise but much stronger data could come out in April. For 2019 as a whole retail sales could increase by 5-6%. Erste Bank junior analyst Zsombor Varga said that despite a slower pace retail sales growth is still stable, and raising wages, consumer confidence and a tight labour market continue to support domestic demand. Takarékbank analyst Gergely Suppan attributed lower sales growth entirely to calendar year effects. K&H Bank chief analyst Dávid Németh said retail sales could grow by 5-5.5% this year mainly because of the sales of durable consumer goods.