Euro zone retail sales slows sharply in March

The fall-off is in line with slight cooling of euro zone economy

 

Retail sales growth in the 19 countries sharing the euro currency slowed sharply in March, European statistics agency Eurostat said on Friday, as consumers spent less on non-food items than in February.

Retail sales, an often revised indicator, rose by just 0.1 per cent in March for a 0.8 per cent annual increase, Eurostat said. That compared with expansion of 0.3 per cent in the month and 1.8 per cent year-on-year in February.

Analysts polled by Reuters had expected an increase of 0.5 per cent month-on-month and an annual increase of 1.9 per cent.

While their volatile nature makes retail sales an unreliable indicator, the drop is in line with a slight cooling of the euro zone economy, as underlined by slowing economic growth in the first quarter of 2018.

The slowdown in retail sales was mainly due to a decline in spending on non-food items, especially clothing and pharmaceutical goods.

Spending on food and drink increased slightly, while mail order and online shopping showed a growth of 3.3 per cent from February.

On a country-by-country basis, retail sales fell most in Ireland and Germany, while Latvia, Portugal and Austria showed a sharp increases during March.