Eurozone Retails Sales Show Fastest Fall in 3 Years
Apr 7, 2006
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Eurozone retail sales as reported by Bloomberg PMI declined for the third successive month in March, falling to its second-lowest reading since survey data was first collected and indicating the sharpest month-on-month contraction in retail sales since May 2004. Bloomberg's Eurozone Retail Purchasing Managers' Index, or PMI(R), is a monthly survey indicating economic conditions in the Eurozone retail sector 1 month ahead of government issued figures.

The report shows the March PMI fell to 47.2, its second-lowest reading since survey data were first collected. According to retailers, the primary factors behind the latest fall in sales were weak consumer confidence and extended winter weather conditions, which discouraged customer activity at the end of the first quarter.

The fact that the seasonally adjusted Eurozone Retail PMI remained below the no-change mark of 50.0 is said to signal a further contraction in retail sales in the single-currency area. Germany, France and Italy, the three largest economies making up the survey, all registered falling month-on-month retail sales in March. Retailers in Italy cited the upcoming general election as a contributing factor to lower sales, which declined at the fastest rate since June 2005 (46.3). Sales also fell sharply in the German retail sector (46.5), following growth through December, January and February. In France, the contraction in monthly retail sales was moderate (48.7), and weaker than that indicated in January.

Survey data indicated that the rate of contraction in Eurozone year-on-year retail sales picked up sharply in March, and was the strongest since October 2004 (41.4). Retailers blamed the steep fall in yearly sales on the different timing of Easter in 2005 and 2006, and also on weather conditions that were less favorable than 12 months ago. Annual retail sales fell sharply across each of the three of the principal Eurozone economies.

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