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Economy in Brief

Rebound in German Retail Sales
by Carol Stone June 2, 2004

Retail sales in Germany surged 2.8% in April, seasonally adjusted in current prices, according to data published today by the Deutsche Bundesbank. This increase halted a five-month string of declines that totaled 5.3%. These sales have never really recovered from the last recession and have been in generally declining trend since the beginning of 2002, so a rebound from the recent weakness is encouraging.

As seen in the table below, clothing stores were a strong source of the total sales gain in April. Motor vehicle sales are not yet available for the month, but the subtotal excluding autos rose only 1.2%, implying a large increase in the auto component. That would mark a notable turn from their recent sharp declines, which had pulled German vehicle sales to their lowest levels since early 1998.

While these latest data are encouraging, they are also given to fairly wide monthly swings. So it remains to be seen if the April gains will endure, particularly in the face of higher energy costs.

Annual Average
Seasonally Adjusted Apr 2004 Mar 2004 Feb 2004 Year Ago
2003 2002 2001
Retail Sales incl Autos(2000=100) 99.8 97.1 98.2 101.6 101.3 101.3 102.0
 % Change     +2.8 -1.1 -0.9 -1.8 December/December
-0.7 -1.4 +1.4
Sales ex Autos
  %  Change
+1.2 +0.4 -0.7 -1.6 -0.1 -2.0 +0.1
Clothing, Footwear, Leather Goods 
 % Change
+6.5 -0.5 +1.0 +1.9 -8.6 -4.7 -3.4
Motor Vehicles
 % Change
N.A. -6.2 -1.7 -8.8 -2.8 +1.0 +7.5
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