Retail sales growth in the euro area stuttered in March, limping just 0.1 per cent higher from February.
The increase was much lower than the 0.5 per cent month-on-month growth analysts had predicted in a Thomson Reuters poll, although the February monthly data were revised upwards from a 0.1 per cent rise to 0.3 per cent.
On an annual basis, sales climbed at less than half the pace expected. Retail sales climbed 0.8 per cent year-on-year, down from 1.8 per cent in February. That compared with expectations for a slight pick-up in the rate of increase to 1.9 per cent.
The data are the latest to show weakness in the eurozone economy in the first quarter of the year, when bad weather and higher than usual rates of illness encouraged consumers to stay at home.
While Claus Vistesen, chief eurozone economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics said the figures “don’t tell us anything we didn’t already know from last week’s advance Q1 GDP data”, he added (emphasis original):
it is another soft headline and the year-over-year rate is particularly striking. Notwithstanding the plunge in October last year, retail sales are now rising at their slowest pace since 2014.