Hungary Table of Contents
The domestic trade sector consisted of state- and cooperative-owned wholesale and retail enterprises and privately owned stores and restaurants. The Ministry of Trade oversaw the state-owned trade enterprises, and all state and cooperative commercial enterprises could engage in both wholesale and retail trade. Private merchants were not required to purchase goods from the wholesale dealers, but they were barred from functioning as wholesalers themselves. In 1986 Hungary had 17,222 state retail stores, 20,163 cooperative ones, and 22,230 private ones. Private contractors managed about 12 percent of the total number of state and cooperative-owned shops. About 75 percent of the 445,000 people working in the trade sector were women. Wages in the sector were 10 percent lower than the national average, which may account for the fact that the sector had high employee turnover. In 1985 Hungary had 102 shops that sold imported goods for foreign currency with annual sales topping US$20 million.
The largest retail trade enterprise in Hungary was the Skala-Coop chain, which several cooperative associations founded in 1974. Skala-Coop began purchasing goods directly from manufacturers and used modern marketing techniques, flashy advertising, an aggressive expansion policy, and consumer credit to capture about 13 percent of the country's entire trade by 1986. The chain also became the first large trade enterprise to gain direct foreign-trade rights.
Data as of September 1989