Euro zone retail sales fell more than expected in March against February as consumers cut purchases of food, drinks and tobacco, the European Union’s statistics office said on Wednesday.
Retail sales, a proxy for household spending, decreased 0.5 percent in March month-on-month in the 19-country currency bloc, Eurostat said. Economists polled by Reuters had forecast a much smaller decrease of 0.1 percent.
Yearly figures were also lower than expected, with sales up 2.1 percent, below market forecasts of a 2.5 percent rise.
The fall in March sales was partly offset by an upward revision of data for February. Eurostat said on Wednesday that in February sales rose 0.3 percent on a monthly basis and 2.7 percent year-on-year. It had previously estimated an increase of 0.2 percent monthly and 2.4 percent yearly.
On a monthly basis, retail sales of food, drinks and tobacco products dropped 1.3 percent in March, the biggest fall among all the categories.
Sales of non-food products, excluding automotive fuels, went down 0.5 percent month-on-month. Purchases of fuel for cars also dropped 0.4 percent on a monthly basis.
Among the largest euro zone economies, Germany posted a 1.1 percent monthly drop of retail sales and France recorded a decrease of 0.7 percent. In Spain, sales increased 0.4 percent on a monthly basis in March.