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Eurozone Retail Sales Fall Most In Over 7-1/2 Years


Eurozone retail sales decreased at the fastest pace in over seven-and-a-half years in December, driven by sharp decline in sales of non-food items such as clothing and footwear and internet purchases.

Retail sales, excluding automobile trade, declined 1.6 percent from November, when they increased 0.8 percent, which was revised from 0.6 percent, preliminary data from Eurostat showed on Tuesday.

The latest fall, which was the first in three months, was in line with economists' expectations.

The December decline was the fastest since a 2.1 percent slump in May 2011.

Sales declines in all categories. The fall was driven by steep sales decline in clothing and footwear, electrical goods and furniture and mail orders and internet segments.

Mail order and internet sales registered a 6.1 percent slump, followed by textiles, clothing and footwear with a 2.9 percent decline.

Sales of electrical goods and furniture decreased 2.1 percent and those of computer devices and books fell 1.5 percent.

Automotive fuel sales rose 0.5 percent month-on-month, same as in November, thanks to lower oil prices.

Among the member states, the worst decline was observed in the biggest euro area economy, Germany, where sales fell 4.3 percent.

On a year-on-year basis, retail sales grew 0.8 percent in December after a 1.8 percent rise in November, revised from 1.1 percent. Economists had expected 0.5 percent gain.

The pace of annual decline was the weakest since September, when they edged up 0.2 percent.

For the full year 2018, retail sales rose an average 1.4 percent in the euro area.

"Looking at the three-month moving average of retail sales which mutes the Black Friday effect, we see a recovery of growth in sales towards the end of the year after a stagnation in sales over the summer," ING economist Bert Colijn said.

"Uncertainty about the global economy continues to be the main factor holding back consumption growth, causing us to maintain a moderate outlook for domestic demand in the coming months," the economist added.

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