Retail sales return to growth in eurozone

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Eurozone retail sales returned to growth in October, data showed yesterday, pointing to rising demand from households after a weak third quarter.

The European Union’s statistics office Eurostat said retail sales in the 18 countries sharing the euro rose 0.4 per cent month-on-month in October for a 1.4 per cent year-on-year gain.

Economists polled by Reuters had expected a 0.6 per cent monthly and a 1.4 per cent annual increase after sales contracted 1.2 percent month-on-month in September and rose 0.5 per cent on the year. Month-on-month sales also fell in July.

Though volatile, retail sales data is a proxy for household demand, one of the weaker elements of the eurozone’s slow and fragile recovery.

Eurostat data showed sales of non-food products, and fuel at petrol stations made the biggest contribution to the monthly rise of the index in October, with Finland and the eurozone’s biggest economy, Germany, reporting the biggest gains.

Sales of food, drinks and tobacco were flat in the month.

In annual terms, automotive fuel sales rose 2.9 per cent and non-food products 2.1 per cent, with just a modest 0.4 per cent increase for the food, drinks and tobacco group.

The sharpest year-on-year rises were in Luxembourg, Estonia and Slovakia, with decreases in Malta and Slovenia.