While data adjusted for working days showed that there was a slowdown in the growth of Hungarian retail trade in the last two months, the annual growth was still a significant 6 percent, compared with 5.7 percent in 2017.
Analysts said there was a somewhat surprising slowdown towards the end of the year. Takarékbank analyst Gergely Suppan said that the slowdown was a result of two factors: a stagnation in food purchases in December and a high comparison base due to the fact that growth was very high in December 2017. He added, however, that there was still a noticeable growth in hospitality services.
Suppan expects real wages to increase by 6 percent this year, but a slowdown in retail growth to around 4.3 percent. The growth will be mainly attributable to an expected rise in the number of completed apartments as well as hospitality, tourism and leisure activities.
K&H Bank chief analyst Dávid Németh said last year the increase in internet retail came in above expectations. For 2019, he expects a retail growth of 4-5 percent, with the somewhat lower figure resulting from a slower growth in real wages.
Erste Bank macroeconomics analyst Zsombor Varga said demand will continue to be supported by high employment levels, growing real wages and modest inflation. He expects a retail trade growth of 4.6 percent this year.