European retail sales for May rose the most since April of last year and showed the first increase for three months, according to the latest Bloomberg Eurozone Retail Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI).
The Bloomberg Eurozone PMI registered 53.1 in May, a recovery from April’s survey low of 41.8. The improvement reflected higher sales of clothing and footwear, food and drink and household goods, commonly attributed to better weather compared to April, and to the timing of Easter.
The PMI showed that sales rose in Germany and France but fell in Italy. Despite the marked improvement in sales performance compared to one month earlier, retail targets were missed again in May. Bloomberg said that targets were missed very narrowly in both Germany and France, though this was partly offset by a marked shortfall in Italy.
In addition, retailers remained confident of beating targets in June, though they were less optimistic than a month ago.
Retail employment fell marginally for the second month running in May (the index registered 49.9 from 49.5 in April) as firms sought to cut staff costs in the face of rising wholesale prices and consumer caution. A modest increase in German retail employment was accompanied by almost no change in France and a fifth successive monthly decline in Italy.
Last, purchases of goods for resale by retailers rose very modestly in May, following a marked fall in April. The index of purchases improved from 46.1 to 50.7. Bloomberg says that the latest expansion was largely driven by increased purchasing in France, with a smaller increase in Germany.