Signs Europe’s retail slump may be easing

Tim Wallace
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EUROPE’S retail collapse slowed down in May, new survey data showed yesterday, hinting the recession may be getting less severe.

The sector contracted for its 19th consecutive month, Markit’s purchasing managers’ index (PMI) showed, with France and Italy particularly sluggish.

For the Eurozone as a whole the index came in at 46.8 up from 44.2 in April but still firmly below the 50 level which indicates growth.

The retail index in France edged up to 45.3, a four-month high and up from 43.7 last month.

And Italy’s jumped sharply from 37.2 in April to 42.1 this month – though that number still represents a sharp fall in sales in the month.

“The retail sector remains some way off recovery though, and the PMI data are consistent with quarterly declines in official consumer spending in the first and second quarters,” said Markit economist Trevor Balchin. “That said, the rate of contraction in the second quarter may not be as severe as the most recent figure of 0.5 per cent seen for the final quarter 2012.”

However, Germany recorded modest retail growth in the month with a score of 51.5, its highest level in a year.