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Economy in Brief

April Retail Trade in the Euro Area Picks Up, Trade in Other EU Countries Slows 
by Louise Curley June 5, 2007

Eurostat released preliminary data for April retail trade today for the aggregates of the 13 countries in the Euro Area and the 27 countries in the European Union. The preliminary data are based on reports by countries representing at least 60% of the weight of the total. As a result data for all countries are not available at this time.

Eurostat does not publish, nor is it possible to derive, an index for total retail trade of the "Fourteen" non Euro Area countries included in the total. However, the fact that retail trade in the Euro Area increased 0.18% in April from March while trade in the entire Union declined, albeit slightly, 0.05%, suggests that retail trade in the "Fourteen" declined in April. The first chart shows the indexes of retail trade in the Euro Area and the European Union. The widening gap between the two series suggests that the greater growth in the retail trade of the European Union has been due largely to the "Fourteen".

The "Fourteen" non Euro Area countries includes three developed countries--the United Kingdom, Sweden and Denmark and eleven emerging countries of central and eastern Europe. Retail trade in the three developed countries has shown more strength than the total of the Euro Area as can be seen in the second chart. This growth, however, falls short of the dramatic growth of retail trade in the central and eastern European countries, as shown in the third chart where the paths of retail trade in Latvia, Estonia and Bulgaria are taken as illustrative of the group of emerging countries. It should however be kept in mind that these countries began to grow only after the fall of the Berlin Wall hence their growth has been from a very low base compared with that of the developed countries.

Growth of retail trade within the Euro Area has varied widely with Germany being the laggard. The fourth chart compares retail trade in Germany with that of France, Finland, and Spain among those with good growth. It appears that retail trade in Germany may finally be showing signs of growth.

VOLUME OF RETAIL TRADE EX AUTOS  (SA, 2000=100)  Apr   07 Mar  07  Apr   06 M/M % Y/Y % 2006 2005 2004
European Area 13 110.22 110.02 108.41 0.18 1.67 108.84 106.72 105.32
European Union 27 118.01 118.07 114.84 -0.05 2.76 115.46 112.14 109.97
France 120.6 119.5 116.1 0.92 3.88 116.9 114.7 113.2
Germany 104.0 101.3 103.3 2.67 0.68 103.5 101.7 100.2
Spain 122.22 124.40 119.69 -1.75 2.11 120.38 118.02 116.27
Finland 132.0 136.1 128.7 -3.01 2.56 129.0 122.2 116.5
United Kingdom 133.14 133.09 127.45 0.04 4.46 128.65 124.65 122.28
Sweden 145.6 145.5 136.6 0.07 6.59 138.3 126.7 118.1
Denmark 132.0 134.0 130.0 -1.49 1.54 130.7 126.4 116.8
Latvia 249.98 251.69 202.48 -0.68 23.46 213.49 178.03 146.91
Bulgaria 232.14 232.71 210.84 -0.24 10.10 215.48 190.29 102.49
Estonia 233.51 242.72 205.19 -3.79 13.80 211.88 181.86 158.98
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