Overall, retail sales increased by 0.2 per cent in July compared with June. Portugal and Romania led the way with 2.5 per cent and 2.2 per cent monthly growth respectively.
When put in the context of the last year, though, the figures are less rosy. Portugal’s sales are down 5.3 per cent on last year and Denmark’s have fallen by 5.1 per cent. The food, drink and tobacco sector is the worst hit category, with trade volumes down 2.2 per cent in 12 months.
Non-food items like computers and books have performed more strongly, though, with annual growth over each month so far this year.
Analysts are not expecting the sector to pick up any time soon.
“It is unlikely that private consumption is on the verge of a strong recovery, at least not in the very near future,” said Barclays Capital’s Fabio Fois. “The outlook remains grim. Unemployment is likely to remain around 10 per cent until the end of next year, with the risk that, should the economic outlook deteriorate, it could increase further.”
Consumer and business confidence figures suggest concern is rising about the global economy. That could prompt further monetary loosening, and economists expect the European Central Bank to hold or reduce interest rates until the end of 2012.
FAST FACTS | EUROZONE RETAIL SALES
● France: 0.8 per cent rise year on year in July.
● Germany: 1.6 per cent rise year on year in July.
● Spain: 3.9 per cent fall year on year in July.
● Belgium: 2.7per cent rise year on year in July.