Retail sales in Hungary increased by an annual 10.9% in February, up from a 7.6% increase in January, the Central Statistical Office (KSH) said. Retail sales rose by 11.3% when adjusted for calendar year effects. Adjusted food sales were up by 10.7%, non-food sales by 11.4% and vehicle fuel sales increased by 1.8%. In the non-food segment, adjusted retail sales of non-specialised stores climbed by 24%, sales at chemists were up by 16%, and sales of clothing retailers rose by 7.0%. Online and mail order sales jumped by 33% and accounted for around 6.7% of total retail sales.
Commenting on the data, the innovation and technology ministry said at least half of the increase in retail sales was due to bulk buying and stockpiling triggered by the novel coronavirus outbreak. State Secretary Péter Cseresnyés noted that webshops’ share of the market has expanded to 7%. This is expected to grow further as the opening times of shops are curtailed, he said. The effects of the epidemic are expected to be more pronounced in March, when sales may fall due to the baseline of goods stockpiled earlier. Stores selling non-essential goods may see falling numbers due to shorter opening hours, he said. Cseresnyés noted that retail supplies are secure in Hungary, and all everyday goods are constantly available. There is no need for stockpiling, he said.