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Friday, December 21, 2007

Hungary October 2007 Retail Sales

October saw retail sales in Hungary decline for the 10th month in a row month-on-month (by 0.2%), the Central Statistics Office reported today. Apparently, pre-Christmas shoppers have been leaving major purchases until later, although demand for consumer loans was thought to suggest increased activity. The continued decline of retails sales on a month-on-month basis bodes ill for Hungary's Q4 GDP growth. On a year-on-year basis, retail sales diminished by 4.1% in October, as opposed to 4.6% in September.

The 10 months to October saw a 2.7% decline, mostly due to the fiscal consolidation that started last summer, higher taxes and a sudden jump in Hungary's inflation rate.

In October, grocery and convenience stores reported a 3.3% drop in sales compared with the same month of 2006 (inreal terms), which compares with a 4.7% slump in non-food retail.The sales figures of car retailers indicate that the slump may be over in the auto industry, with 2.4% year-on-year growth registered by the Central Statistics Office in October. At the same time, motor fuel sales increased by 3.9% year-on-year.

Retail sales are now back where they were in August 2005, and something else that nobody really seems to be thinking about over the longer term, is how you can really talk about increasing retail sales and sustaining them when Hungary's population is not only ageing, it is also declining, as highlighted yesterday by the statistical office:

In the first ten months of 2007 there were fewer live births and more deaths compared to the same period of the previous year. Remarkably fewer couples got married than one year before. According to the preliminary data 81 339 children were born, 110 093 inhabitants died and 36 755 couples got married. The degree of natural decrease was higher than in January–October 2006. The population size of the country was estimated to be 10 052 thousands at the end of the period.

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