In a surprising turn of events, retail sales in the eurozone fell unexpectedly in November, raising concerns about the region's consumer economy as the year comes to a close.
According to data released by the European Union statistics body Eurostat on Monday, adjusted retail trade in the 20-member currency union decreased by 0.3% compared to the previous month. This decline was worse than anticipated by economists, as indicated by a Wall Street Journal poll. However, it is important to note that these figures are relative to an October estimate that was later revised higher.
When compared to the same period last year, total sales were 1.1% lower. Among the major economies in the bloc, Germany experienced the sharpest decline with a 2.5% drop, while France saw a slight increase in retail trade and Spain reported a 1.5% growth.
Fuel sales bucked the trend and rose for the month, but all other categories experienced a decline, particularly non-food sales.
The return to a decline in sales for November dampens the positive momentum observed in October, which was a rarity in the face of months of sustained decline. This latest setback is worrying news for the eurozone economy in the final quarter of the year. Despite inflation easing to manageable levels and modest growth in some sectors, consumption appears to remain weak. Furthermore, industrial output across the bloc remains stagnant. The slight contraction of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in the July-September period has prompted economists to warn that a rapid rebound in the fourth quarter and the new year seems unlikely.
These latest figures indicate a challenging end to the year for the eurozone's consumer economy, further highlighting the need for measures to stimulate future growth.