Retail sales down across Europe
Retail sales across the European Union fell by 0.1 per cent in February – including a 0.3 per cent drop in Germany – reflecting weakening consumer confidence as governments cut budgets and inflation rises. Economists had predicted a modest increase.
Sales in both the EU-27 and the eurozone declined by 0.1 per cent following respective 0.4 and 0.2 per cent increases in January, according to Eurostat. But compared with February 2010, sales were up 0.9 per cent in the EU-27 and 0.1 per cent in the eurozone.
In February compared to January, total retail trade fell in 11 of the member states for which data was available and increased in 10. The biggest fall was 1.3 per cent in Slovenia, while Lithuania saw the biggest rise, of 2.2 per cent.
Year-on-year, consumer spending rose in 13 and fell in eight member states. In Spain sales dropped by 5.6 per cent but in Poland there was growth of 12.6 per cent. The European Central Bank is expected to raise interest rates on Thursday in an attempt to ease the pressure on prices.