Eurozone retail sales fell at a faster than expected pace in April, after rising in the previous two months, as the Covid-19 lockdown restrictions were tightened in some countries.

Retail sales decreased 3.1 percent from March, preliminary data from Eurostat showed Friday. Economists had forecast a 1.2 percent drop.

In March, sales grew 3.3 percent, revised from 2.7 percent.

The latest decline was driven by a 5.1 percent slump in sales in the non-food except automotive fuel group. Sales in the food, drinks, tobacco group dropped 2 percent and those in the mail orders and internet segment fell 2.9 percent.

Sales of automotive fuel in specialized stores grew 0.4 percent.

In the EU, retail sales decreased 3.1 percent from March, when they rose 3.2 percent. This was also the first fall in three months.

On a year-on-year basis, Euro area retail sales surged 23.9 percent in April after a 13.1 percent growth in the previous month, revised from 12 percent. Economists had forecast 25.5 percent growth. Sales rose for a second straight month.

“Sales are on a volatile ride at the moment, but all signs point toward a stronger recovery for the rest of the second quarter,” ING economist Bert Colijn said.

The economist said the end of the reopening retail rebound is unlikely as consumers are keen to spend and unemployment has continued to decline over the course of the second wave.

“Add the extra accumulated savings from last year to that and this gives a solid outlook for the retail sector for the months ahead, which underpins a strong consumption rebound,” Colijn added.

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