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Economy in Brief

German Retail Sales Head South For The Winter
by Robert Brusca  February 3, 2009

German nominal and real ex-auto retail sales are off for the third month in a row. In the fourth quarter nominal retail sales are off at a 4% pace; ex-auto real retail sales are dropping at a 2.1% pace. The sequential growth rates show an accelerating pattern of losses from 12-months to 6-months to 3-months, across the main categories in the table.

The downturn has spreading across other measures as well, as manufacturing has been notoriously weak. German consumers have not been much of a prop to this economy for a long time. In the quarter ended Sept 2008 they did rise by 1.9% Q/Q (saar), but that was after falling by 3.2% (saar) in the previous quarter. Yr/Yr quarterly average real (ex auto) retail sales have been negative in German since the quarter ended December 2006. Ironically the 2008-Q4 retail sales figures on this same basis are up by 0.1%, the first quarterly increase since Q4-2008 and it comes as sales have turned tail to move sharply lower in the quarter.

The German retailing association HDE is looking for retail sales to decline in real terms in 2009. Manufacturing is coming apart at the seams. Construction is weak, The German economy, Europe’s largest, is under fire.

German Real and Nominal Retail Sales QTR
  Nominal Dec-08 Nov-08 Oct-08 3-MO 6-MO 12-MO YrAgo Saar
Retaill Ex auto -0.6% -0.8% -0.9% -8.7% -0.4% 1.2% -4.6% -4.0%
Food Bev & Tobacco -1.5% -1.6% 0.0% -11.6% -1.1% 1.2% -3.2% -2.6%
Clothing footwear -0.9% 1.1% -4.4% -15.9% 4.3% 1.1% -2.7% -5.
Retail Ex auto -0.2% -0.1% -0.9% -4.6% 0.6% 0.2% -6.5% -2.1%
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