Eurozone retail sales much weaker than expected in December

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People wearing protective masks walk on the Kurfurstendamm shopping boulevard amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Berlin, Germany, December 5, 2020. REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch

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BRUSSELS, Feb 4 (Reuters) – Euro zone retail sales were much weaker than expected in December despite the Christmas shopping season, amid record high consumer prices, data showed on Friday. .

The European Union’s statistics office, Eurostat, said retail sales in the 19 countries sharing the euro fell 3% month-on-month for a 2.0% rise year-on-year. Economists polled by Reuters had expected a monthly decline of 0.5% and an annual rise of 5.1%.

Internet sales, which had exploded during the pandemic lockdowns when stores were closed, were down 3.9% month-on-month in December and 3.2% year-on-year, the most governments having lifted restrictions on in-person purchases.

Still, retail sales of non-food items excluding automotive fuel fell 5.2% in the month, still 3.1% higher than 12 months earlier.

Consumer inflation in December hit 5.0% year-on-year, mainly due to soaring energy prices, but even without energy prices were 2.8% higher than a year earlier, which dampened consumers’ purchasing power.

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Reporting by Jan Strupczewski

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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