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Economy in Brief

Consumer Spending and Purchase Plans in EMU
by Robert Brusca October 3, 2008

Retail sales in the Euro Area rose in August. The rise was small but it marks the second monthly rise in a row. Still the growth rates over 3 months, 6 months and 12 months are all hovering in the -2% range (saar) for the Area. The bottom of the table shows country by country results for Germany, Italy and the UK. The volatility in country level sales has been substantial. Germany saw sales volume spurt by 4.1% (ex-auto) in August. UK sales volume rose by 1.2%. Still over three months UK sales are off at an 8.1% annual rate. German sales over three months are up at a +2.4% pace. There is a lot of volatility in Europe. While this report seems to show some resiliency, consumer plans to buy still seem to be skewed sharply lower (see chart). Consumer sentiment remains weak and the industrial sectors across Europe are still weakening. The rise in retail sales in August seems to be more of an anomaly than proof of resiliency.

Euro Area 15  Retail Sales Volume
  Aug-08 Jul-08 Jun-08 3-Mo 6-MO 12-Mo
Euro Area 15 Total 0.3% 0.1% -0.8% -1.8% -2.1% -1.7%
Food 0.7% -0.5% -0.7% -2.0% -2.6% -2.1%
Nonfood 0.1% 0.5% -0.9% -1.0% -1.5% -1.4%
Textiles #N/A 2.4% -2.7% 24.9% -0.2% -0.1%
Books, news, etc #N/A 1.0% -1.1% -1.1% -2.4% -0.4%
Pharmaceutical #N/A 0.0% 0.5% 0.6% 0.8% 1.5%
Other nonspecialized stores #N/A 1.1% -1.8% -0.7% -2.0% -1.1%
Mail Order #N/A 2.9% -1.3% 2.7% -0.3% 0.1%
Country detail;Volume
Germany: Vol ex Auto 3.1% -1.0% -1.5% 2.4% -0.6% 0.1%
Italy (Total; Value) #N/A 0.6% -0.4% 1.8% 0.4% 0.6%
UK (EU):Vol 1.2% 0.9% -4.2% -8.1% 1.9% 3.4%
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, Netherlands, Portugal, Slovenia and Spain.
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