The consumer electronics market in Hungary started to recover in 2021, after previous sluggish growth in consumer electronics spending, which was attributed to factors such as fiscal austerity, tighter credit conditions, exceptionally high foreign-currency denominated debt and elevated unemployment levels. The pandemic-induced recession was a headwind and consumer sentiment declined sharply, along with forint depreciation that reduced the affordability of imported devices, and those assembled locally with imported components. Following global trends, devices for private use have shifted in Hungary from desktops and laptops to tablets. Consequently, retail sales of the former have fallen, including weak demand for enterprise computer hardware, such as desktops and printers, because of lower on-site headcount. The high performing product categories were notebooks and to a lesser extent tablets, which saw growth under lockdown policies when purchases were triggered by the surge in remote work and study. The Covid crisis also saw structural changes in the devices market in 2020 and there was a surge in online purchases.
Hungary’s e-commerce sector is growing rapidly, and Hungary is the 57th largest market for eCommerce with a revenue of over USD 2.4 billion in 2023. Hungary’s domestic online retail turnover may increase 2.2 times by 2024. Even though the country is one of the fastest growing e-commerce markets in the region, it is still behind the EU average of 63%, as well as regional peers such as Poland and the Czech Republic. According to Eurostat data, around 70% of Hungarians shopped online in 2022, a good increase compared to 49% in 2019. Hungary’s shifting demographic might cause negative long-term consequences for online retail. The 20-39-year-old age group is forecast to be the fastest shrinking in the country. The creation of new access channels to grocery and non-food products could become a driving force in the future.
The main online retailers in Hungary are EMAG (merged with Extreme Digital), Alza, Tesco, and OBI, but stores like Ikea, Media Markt, H&M, Apple,
. Local web shops generated USD 1.64 billion in turnover, more than 5% of the total national retail trade volume. The most popular product categories were electronics & media, food & personal care, toys/hobby & DIY , EMAG 4% market share of the Top 100 online stores, followed closely by retailers with a focus on electronics & media, including Alza, Extreme Digital (edigital.hu) and
Sub-Sector Best Prospects
Selling conditions will remain challenging, but the outlook for rising incomes, product innovation, and demographic trends should support a growing trend for spending. Beyond the initial recovery, robust purchasing power growth will allow vendors to pursue higher unit prices on replacement purchases in established product categories and there is increased prospect of newer technologies, such as wearables, becoming mass-market products. Hungary’s role as an assembly center means parts imports are a crucial, with the largest sources of TV set parts being from China, Vietnam, and South Korea.
An increased focus on health during the pandemic led to an increase in fitness activities in 2020 that drove up demand for wireless earphones and earbuds. Premium audio demand has been on a strong trend since 2018, driven by demand for soundbars and smartphone accessories like wireless speakers and headphones. There was a limited impact for Apple’s AirPods because of the relatively small installed base of iPhones in Hungary, which is a market weighted towards Android smartphones, with Samsung Electronics as unit and value market leader. Xiaomi follows as its main rival Huawei (that has been in decline since the loss of access to Google services), as a disruptor but Apple, which is concentrating on premium smartphone sales, is the third of all mobile vendors in Hungary.
The state is an important buyer of computers, as the underdeveloped IT infrastructure of the government and educational institutions are a target for EU-financed IT-development projects, along with state money allocated for such projects. Distribution of EU funds will help boost spending on computers and drive information society development. From 2022, all consumers across the country have access to the internet for personal use through mobile or broadband connections at home, as the result of large infrastructure development.
During the pandemic, public health restrictions dramatically accelerated the shift in electronics sales to online sources. As e-commerce became more and more significant, hypermarkets such as Tesco and Auchan launched online sales and door-to-door delivery service which has remained in place. Among the different offline retail formats, hypermarkets enjoyed a noticeable share given that consumers tend to save time by doing their regular grocery shopping and the purchase of electronics products at the same place. The strong overall position of hypermarkets in the Hungarian retail space ensures continuous customer flows. However, larger offline channels were losing share to online retailing which dynamically grew over the last few years. Internet retailing was strengthened by the entrance of a notable player, eMag a few years ago, and an established presence online by traditional offline retailers Euronics, based in the Netherlands, and Media Markt based in Germany. For online sales in general, cash payment has shrunk, and bank card payment has increased. The number of payments made with locally issued bank cards was up 13% year-on-year and the value of transactions was 24% higher in the second quarter of 2023 (source: MNB). Nearly one out of five domestically issued bank cards have been registered in mobile wallets. Spending by this method rose by 53% by volume and 70% by value. The average transaction value of cash withdrawals reached HUF 103,000 (USD 300). During the first wave of Covid in 2020, the number of people buying basic goods online increased by 36%, with the most popular categories being books (23%), followed by kitchen appliances (21%), and hair color and IT equipment (combined for 12%) in Hungary.
Domestic online retail sales were 30% higher, year-on-year, and increased to HUF 494 billion (USD 1.64 billion) in the first half of 2021. The number of orders increased by 32% to 28 million, as transactions per person averaged 17 during the same period. Demand was 50% higher for food, groceries, and dairy products, while the online turnover in consumer electronics and computer products increased by 37% to HUF 114 billion (USD 370 million) in the January-June period of 2021. In 2022, e-commerce accounted for 9.6 percent of online retail turnover.
There could be long-term opportunities arising from the pandemic because of the focus of European Union investment proposals on digital and green technology. Targets that will create opportunities and shape industry development include uptake of cloud/AI/big data, finance, and support for tech start-ups, 5G rollout across the EU, and a doubling of the EU share of global semiconductor production.
Hungarian consumers are relatively conservative and price-sensitive with regards to new products. Growth will be supported by the fact that replacement cycles of many consumer electronics in households have been lengthened by the economic crisis, and such products are reaching the end of their lifecycle. A more affluent household sector will also broaden the market for technologies such as smart watches and fitness trackers, smart assistant speakers, foldable and dual screen smartphones, wireless earbuds, and possibly AR/VR.
The audio-visual devices segment has a positive outlook for 2021. The release of next-generation game consoles by Sony and Microsoft marks the start of a new console upgrade super-cycle, but the market is smaller than in Western Europe due to lower incomes.
In terms of IT, low penetration for enterprise software in some verticals, including enterprise resource planning, customer relationship management, and supply chain management means a potential growth market for vendors, particularly as software-as-a-service (SAAS) development deepens the market. Harmonized EU rules on data privacy and security could catalyze the development of the local cloud computing market and create the potential for Hungary to develop into a regional hub. Companies will have to invest in key IT services and products to compete with EU rivals, with cloud services expected to outperform. Spending on IT security products is expected to grow rapidly in the coming three years.
E-commerce, which got a lift from the pandemic and ensuing lockdowns, seems to have maintained its momentum. Online retailers are optimistic about the next six months, with online retail growth expected to continue to exceed last year’s level. Based on numerous predictions, e-commerce will continue to grow rapidly in the coming years as well. It has been predicted that the compounded annual growth rate (CAGR 20-24) for the next four years will be 12%.
eNET Internet Research and Consulting Ltd.
U.S. Embassy - U.S. Commercial Service
Eva Bosze, Commercial Specialist
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