The retail sales volume index in Romania increased by 11.1% y/y in January (+9.3% in December).
This was exactly when retail sales were expected to slightly ease, but instead achieved the highest annual increase in nearly two years, according to data from the statistics office INS.
The retail sales increased above potential growth rate for the fifth month in a row, head of research at Banca Transilvania, Andrei Radulescu, commented.
In seasonally-adjusted terms, the 3.5% month-on-month performance in January was the strongest since early 2017 — calculated for either overall sales or non-food sales. The 11.1% annual rise in January was almost equally supported by food or non-food goods (with the growth rates standing at 10.6% and 11.2%), while the sales of car fuels, typically more volatile, increased by 11.9% compared to the same month of 2019. Stronger car fuel sales were partly supported by the cut in the excise tax as of January.
The retail sales index advanced by 7.2% in 2019 compared to 2018, gaining momentum after the more modest 5.6% annual advance in 2018.
The robust performance in January comes amid expectations for robust, yet gradually weakening, sales through 2020, a pattern expected to be driven by tighter income policies in the public sector, among others. The tight labour market keeps pushing up the wages in the private sector, though.