Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Impacts of Hungary's no-work Sunday: Cabinet already has detailed data

May 12, 2015, 2:21 pm

Hungarian version

Almost two months have passed since Hungary’s mandatory Sunday rest day (or no-work Sunday or Sunday shopping ban or Sunday closure of retail stores) was put into effect. People are on pins and needles to see the first sales data that could be compared to earlier data, i.e. those from a year earlier. Well, the cabinet has finally started to communicate these figures, saying Hungarians have been spending more than before the no-work Sunday. Compared to what you may ask. We are asking the same, but there’s no answer. They are spending more, that’s it. Why you have to be so nitpicky all the time, huh?

The law on no-work Sunday entered into effect on 15 March and guessing started a few weeks ago how the restrictions - stores may be open between 6 A.M. and 10 P.M. and may not open on Sunday - affected retail sales.

Data we could compare to a year earlier have been published only for March, which shows slower growth than in the preceding months.

Local business daily Napi Gazdaság on Tuesday cited Kristóf Szatmáry, Minister of State for Economic Regulation, as divulging data about consumption, based on information gathered from online cash registers. He said:
  • "Since the implementation of the mandatory Sunday rest day the average daily consumption in Hungary grew to HUF 22.45 billion from HUF 20.9 billion.
  • Based on these figures he claims that "citizens are buying more goods over six days then they did before on a full week."
  • Then he adds that "the over HUF 1.5 billion daily growth is related not only to shopping in stores, but - meeting the preliminary expectations of the government - spending by families have increased further in the area of services."
  • "Before the law came into effect, the average weekly spending of families amounted to HUF 141 billion, which sum grew to HUF 157 bn since the introduction of the Sunday restriction."
  • "The implementation of the Sunday rest day has not caused losses; it has rather been able to channel retail sales into a fairer range, creating a more advantageous situation for smaller businesses that have been sharing a small slice of the market.".
Compared to what?!

Having read the above remarks we would like to make a few observations in order to get a fuller picture on the impacts of the no-work Sunday on retail sales:
  • The data Szatmáry shared with the public referred to daily average consumption rather than on retail sales (the former is of a wider scope since it also includes services).
  • Szatmáry has not mentioned a point of reference at all. The data he compares the average daily consumption is for what period exactly? The comparison of the most recent readings should be made with data from a year earlier.
  • The same applies to the weekly data he has provided.
  • Without such retail sales data going back several years it would be too early to draw any conclusion about the impacts of the no-work Sunday.

In order to see more clearly we have requested data from the National Tax and Customs Authority (NAV). As soon as we have these figures for comparison, we’ll be back. However, with regard to data gained from online cash registers we should underline that years-long data series will not be available for comparison considering that the connection of online cash registers to the tax authority started to rise sharply only during 2014.

2015.05.07 11:27
Hungarian maverick finds out what locals think of the Sunday closure of retails stores

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