Euro zone retail trade weaker than expected as food sales fall

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FILE PHOTO: Shoppers in Munich, Germany

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – Euro zone retail sales were much weaker than expected in April, data showed on Friday, pulled down by principally by reduced purchases of food, drinks and tobacco.

The EU’s statistics office said the volume of retail sales in the 19 countries sharing the euro fell 1.3% month-on-month in April for a 3.9% year-on-year increase. Economists polled by Reuters had expected a 0.3 monthly rise and a 5.4 year-on-year gain.

Retail sales had risen in the first three months of the year.

Eurostat said sales of food, drinks and tobacco fell 2.6% on the month, while non-food products were down 0.7%, despite a 3.4% increase in online and mail order sales. Motor fuel sales rose 1.9%.

The decline was particularly marked in Germany, the euro zone’s largest economy, where sales dropped 5.4% during the month. Slovenia and Latvia were also weak, while sales in Spain, Luxembourg, Ireland and Malta gained.

From a year earlier, Slovenia and Malta registered the sharpest gains and Finland, Luxembourg and Belgium the steepest declines.

(Reporting by Jan Strupczewski; editing by Philip Blenkinsop)