Bulgaria: March saw jump in retail figures of pharmacies, online sales

March 2020 saw turnover at Bulgaria’s pharmacies and drug stores up by 14.4 per cent on an annual basis, while retail sales in the category “mail order houses or via internet” went up by five per cent, according to figures released by the National Statistical Institute (NSI) on May 8.

The figures were released against the background of the State of Emergency voted by Bulgaria’s National Assembly on March 13 to contain the spread of coronavirus.

March saw huge demand in Bulgaria for protective masks, as well as vitamins and medicines believed by the public to be effective against Covid-19.

Already in February, turnover at pharmacies and drug stores in Bulgaria had gone up by close to 11 per cent on an annual basis, after January saw an increase of about five per cent.

Sales via mail order houses or the internet – the NSI groups them together in a single category – had increased by 9.4 per cent in February and 8.8 per cent in January, on an annual basis, notably reversing a trend of the decline that had been seen in the last three months of 2019.

However, with shopping malls closed under State of Emergency rules – although pharmacies, banks and food shops in malls have been allowed to remain open – the category “retail sale of textiles, clothing footwear and leather goods in specialised stores” plummeted by 6.3 per cent on an annual basis.

Retail sales of IT equipment dropped by 40.4 per cent on an annual basis, the NSI said.

“Retail sale of audio and video equipment; hardware, paints and glass; electrical household appliances, etc. in specialised stores” dropped by just short of 20 per cent.

Compared with February, March saw retail sales of food, beverages and tobacco up by almost two per cent, the NSI said.

(Main photo, taken in March 2020 in Bulgaria’s capital city Sofia, shows a sign in a pharmacy saying that it has no surgical masks, no small bottles of antibacterial gel, no surgical spirit, no surgical gloves and no antibacterial wipes. Ensuing weeks saw pharmacies re-stocking and none has a shortage of these items)

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