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Retail Sales On The Rise In Hungary Despite Sunday Closures


Hungarian retail sales rose by an annual 6.5% in March from 6.4% in February, the Central Statistical Office (KSH) confirmed in a second reading of data. Adjusted for calendar year effects, retail sales grew by an annual 5.1% in March. Food sales increased by 4% while nonfood sales were up 5.6%. Fuel sales rose by 8.7%. In January-March, retail sales were up an unadjusted 7 % year on year. KSH noted that legislation requiring most big retailers to remain closed on Sundays came into force in the middle of March, but said that more time and data were needed to measure the effects of the new rule.

State secretary for economic regulation, Béla Glattfelder, noted on public television after the release of the data that retail sales had increased after the restrictions on Sunday shopping were introduced. He told public news channel M1 that the increase had been supported by economic growth, higher employment and improved confidence. Lower loan repayments resulting from the conversion of FX lending stock and rebates due under borrowers relief legislation, as well expanded family tax preferences, will raise households’ disposable income, he added.

Left-leaning daily Népszabadság said previously that retail sales in Hungary were “little changed in March and April”, in spite of the introduction of rules that require big stores to close on Sunday. Weekly retail turnover averaged around 150 billion forints (EUR 487m) in March and April, the paper said, citing data from the National Tax and Customs Authority (NAV), about level with the 145-150 billion in January and February. Rules prohibiting stores over 200sqm from opening on most Sundays came into force from the middle of March. The paper said retail turnover earlier seen on Sundays had shifted to Thursdays and Fridays.

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