Katalin Neubauer: “Leisurely shopping is a thing of the past”

By: Budai Klára Date: 2022. 07. 04. 10:08

Our magazine discussed the state of play in Hungarian retail trade with Katalin Neubauer, secretary general of the Hungarian National Trade Association (MNKSZ).


Neubauer Katalin, Mnksz

Katalin Neubauer
secretary general

– After the hardships of the last two years, to what extent was life in retail trade able to return to “normal”?

– Shopping habits changed very much during the coronavirus pandemic. The online channel strengthened a lot, but shoppers wanted to go back to physical stores too, so sales are approaching the pre-pandemic level. However, despite the sales growth the profit is lower now, as costs have surged recently.

– What is the same as before and are there any factors that will never be the same?

– Already when COVID-19 started, it became clear that nothing will be the same again. Shoppers still have the need for personal contact, especially Generation Y and older consumers. Leisurely shopping is a thing of the past. Brick-and-mortar stores have transformed as well, there are self-checkouts in many of them to make shopping faster.

– What causes problems today?

– In the labour market the situation is extremely difficult. Businesses need to cope with the problem of the workforce shortage, but it is also hard for them to find ways for increasing salaries – as this is what employees want. All this comes at a time when energy and purchasing prices are soaring.

– What about MNKSZ members in the last two years?

– Last year few new members joined and we focused more on laying the groundwork for long-term collective thinking with those who had joined in 2020. In 2020 most of those who joined the ranks of MNKSZ were Hungarian retailers and networks based in shopping centres and malls, from those segments that were forced to close due to the pandemic.

– What were MNKSZ’s biggest achievements?

– One of our main objectives was to turn MNKSZ into a strong and prestigious trade association. The gross sales revenue of our members is more than HUF 1,200bn and this gives us a firm background. It is also a success that recently we have managed to establish a good work relationship with various ministries, chambers and authorities, so our voice is heard before the decisions are made.

– Was 2021 a good year for members? What are your plans for 2022?

– From a sales revenue perspective last year was very good for members, but the rising costs have made their life difficult by now. Retailers are optimistic and they plan development. They can get funding for this from different types of loan programmes, such as the various Széchenyi Card Programme schemes.

– What has changed recently in regulation or other fields?

– These days only change is constant, so regulations keep changing too. It is a big problem for MNKSZ members to collect those rules which are in force at the moment. For more than two years we worked on a collection of these, which can help them – especially micro-businesses and SMEs – comply with the rules easier. This publication explains enterprises what the goal is with different rules, how to follow them and which authorities check compliance – all of this is told in a language that is easy to understand. The collection is updated regularly online at https://kiskerjogtar.hu.

– How can you help members in the current situation?

– On 28 May new rules will become valid for indicating promotional prices and discounts, and the regulation for communicating in-store and on marketing platforms will also change. MNKSZ helps members in the practical implementation. We also assist them in preparing for the launch of the system for returning formerly non-returnable drink packaging as of 1 January 2024.

– What are your goals and tasks for this year?

– Right now one of the top tasks is to get in touch with those members of the new government who have something to do with retail trade. We want to be on as good terms with them as with the previous ministries, so that we can represent the interests of MNKSZ members effectively. //

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