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Economy in Brief

Retail Sales and Spending Plans in EMU: Deceleration
by Robert Brusca March 5, 2008

January Euro Area retail sales fell 1% in volume terms. Over three months growth has slowed marginally and is clinging in real terms to a 1% rate of growth. The volume of spending on food has picked up in the recent three months after negative growth rates of six and 12 months despite climbing prices. The volume of spending on nonfood items has steadily deteriorated: 12-month to 6-month to 3-month. This is matter of concern. Three of four EU countries depicted in the table details show sales decelerating in the recent three-month period. I say three since I include Italy that only offers nominal figures. Once inflation is subtracted surely Italy with nominal sales already so weak will add to the story of retail weakness in EMU. France shows some resilience. The UK, while showing some slowing, also shows some growth consumer is not about to hold growth aloft in the Euro Area. The purchase plans plotted in the chart underscore that fact of life.

Euro Area 15 Retail Sales Volume
  Jan-08 Dec-07 Nov-07 3-Mo 6-MO 12-Mo
Total 0.4% -0.1% -0.5% -1.1% -1.4% 0.1%
Food 0.6% -0.5% -0.7% -2.8% -1.4% -0.9%
Nonfood 0.4% 0.0% -0.4% 0.0% -1.6% 0.7%
Textiles #N/A 0.3% -0.6% -13.0% -2.0% -0.6%
HH Goods #N/A 0.6% -0.8% -2.7% -2.6% -2.3%
Books news, etc #N/A -0.6% 0.1% -1.2% -1.7% 0.4%
Pharma #N/A 0.1% 0.0% 2.2% 3.4% 2.9%
Other Nonspecialized stores #N/A -0.2% -0.6% -3.0% -2.1% -2.1%
Mail Order #N/A 2.8% -1.3% 4.1% 1.0% -1.2%
Nonfood Country detail (volume)
Germany 0.9% -0.2% -0.4% 1.3% -4.0% 2.2%
France -0.4% 1.1% -0.3% 1.7% 2.0% 4.2%
Italy (Total; Value) #N/A 0.1% -0.3% 0.4% 0.6% 0.3%
UK (EU) 1.2% 0.0% 0.5% 6.8% 5.6% 7.6%
Shaded areas calculated on a one-month lag due to lagging data.
The EA 15 countries are Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Portugal, Slovenia and Spain.
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