Romania’s retail sales expressed in volume increased 5.0% yoy in November, gaining momentum from 4.1% yoy in October according to the statistics office INS.
Compared with November 2019, the retail sales volume was 4.2% higher, revealing a significant annual growth rate of 2.1%. But more detailed and seasonally adjusted data and the filtering of base effects reveal that retail sales have stagnated since May 2021, while sales of non-food goods (most relevant to consumer confidence) have contracted by 4. 3% in October and November.
The propensity of households to consume is visibly negatively impacted by multiple factors: rising energy bills, general inflation (which has lowered real wages) and rising interest rates.
Net wages contracted 1.8% yoy in November, when headline inflation hit 7.9% yoy. The outlook is not very good in this regard as energy bills are generally expected to increase during the winter period.
High energy prices are still offset to some extent by the state, but that means households expect even higher prices from April.
Consumer credit remains solid, even by pre-crisis standards, but the volume of new consumer credit contracted by 27.5% in November compared to July 2021, when it increased. peaked.
Non-food sales pushed up overall sales figures after the lockdown period and peaked in May 2021 when they were 9.9% compared to May 2019. Since then, however, seasonally adjusted sales of non-food goods contracted by 5%.
By contrast, in November 2021, fuel sales (seasonally adjusted) reached their highest level since January 2019. This figure was 4% higher than in November 2019. However, it is premature to conclude that sales of fuel have already returned to their previous level. crisis levels, given their volatile profile.