The total volume of retail trade fell 0.2 per cent across the 17 euro area countries, having increased by 0.1 per cent in June.
Though this overall picture was fairly flat, it hid a 0.9 per cent rise in non-food volumes, and a 0.9 per cent fall in food, drinks and tobacco sales.
There was also divergence between different countries’ experiences: sales in Ireland climbed 1.7 per cent as it recovers after its short, sharp, austere recession, whereas in crisis-hit Spain volumes dropped off 1.9 per cent.
The generally gloomy picture was highlighted by the yearly figures, which showed overall sales down 1.7 per cent, driven by collapses of 7.6 per cent in Portugal and 7.3 per cent in Spain.
“The prospects for consumer spending in the Eurozone look troubling,” warned Howard Archer at IHS Global Insight, pointing to lagging consumer confidence and employment.