Romania's retail sales volume index increased by 9.4% in the first quarter of the year (Q1) compared to the same period of 2019, the statistics office INS informed.
The robust growth in Q1 is, however, expected to reverse in the coming quarters, as the European Commission expects 6.2% contraction in private consumption over the entire year under the 2020 Spring Forecast.
The main driver, judged from the EC Forecast, will be the weak consumer confidence - since the rise in wages is forecast to offset the drop in employment resulting in roughly steady aggregate household budget.
The food sales recorded the most robust growth rate in Q1, 14.6%, as households rushed to build up reserves, fearing imminent food shortage at the end of the March after the lockdown came into force.
Compared to the same month last year, the sales of food items in March surged by 17.4%. In the same month, the sales of non-food goods dropped by 1.6% compared to March 2019.
Over the entire Q1, the non-food sales still posted a healthy 7.5% annual growth rate. Separately, the sale of car fuels plunged by 8.3% in March amid movement restrictions, dragging down the quarter's growth rate to only 3.7%.
In seasonally adjusted terms, the overall retail sales contracted by 3.6% in March compared to February. Food sales inched up by 2.6% month-on-month, non-food sales dropped by 6.7%, and car fuel sales plunged by 11.5%.