Eurozone retail sales recovered unexpectedly in March, but the underlying trend in spending remain soft as austerity measures dampen consumer confidence.
Retail sales volume climbed 0.3 percent month-on-month in March, offsetting February's 0.2 percent drop, Eurostat said Friday. Economists had expected sales to remain flat in March.
Meanwhile, sales were down 0.2 percent on a yearly basis. The rate of decline slowed from the 2.1 percent drop seen in February. Also, March's drop was smaller than the 1.1 percent fall forecast by economists.
Food sales remained flat from a month ago, when it rose 0.6 percent. On the other hand, non-food product sales edged up 0.1 percent, reversing a 0.3 percent decrease in the previous month.
In the EU27, the volume of retail sales increased 0.7 percent from a month ago, taking the annual growth to 1 percent.
Total retail sales increased in ten EU countries, fell in nine and remained stable in Ireland and Sweden. The highest monthly increases were observed in Bulgaria, Poland and Austria. Meanwhile, Portugal posted the biggest fall of 2.2 percent, followed by 2 percent drop in Estonia.
Sales increased 0.8 percent month-on-month in Germany and climbed 0.9 percent in France. On the other hands, sales in Spain dipped 0.5 percent.
IHS Global Insight Chief European Economist Howard Archer said the prospects for consumer spending look troubling in the near term at least given generally fragile and low consumer confidence, high and rising unemployment, sticky inflation, generally muted wage growth and tightening fiscal policy in many countries.
by RTT Staff Writer
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