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Economy in Brief

E- Area Retailing Remains Weak
by Robert Brusca March 13, 2009

The E-Area consumer remains under pressure and the retail sales picture reflects that. Even so, retailing is hardly the weakest sector in the Area. The output sector – factories- are much weaker. Exports are much weaker. Retail sales growth remains negative but the three-month growth rate for sales shows less of a decline than for six-months. The slowdown in retail sales actually is dissipating its momentum even as European unemployment climbs and the recession spreads. Since retail sales component data are not available through the current month the trends for the components through December are the most current: they show considerably more weakness.

Consumer sentiment is weak and falling across the Area. It would be a surprise if there was much recovery for the consumer in the coming months as unemployment continues to rise. Spending plans by consumers (see chart) continue to be cut to extremely low levels. European ‘stimulus plans have not been targeted at the consumer although they could be expected to help provide some buffering.

Ezone (15) Retail Sales Volume
  Jan-09 Dec-08 Nov-08 3-Mo 6-MO 12-Mo
Zone-15 Total 0.1% -0.3% -0.1% -1.4% -2.6% -2.7%
Food #N/A -0.3% -0.1% -4.5% -1.4% -2.0%
Non-Food #N/A -0.4% -0.4% -7.1% -2.5% -2.5%
Textiles #N/A -0.6% -0.6% -16.0% -2.8% -3.0%
Books news, etc #N/A -0.5% -1.9% -11.8% -5.2% -4.4%
Pharma #N/A -0.1% 0.1% -2.2% -0.4% 0.2%
Other NonSpec #N/A -1.2% 0.2% -4.2% -2.8% -3.8%
Mail Order #N/A 3.9% 0.0% 8.0% 9.4% 3.4%
Country Detail; Volume
Germany: Volx Auto -0.6% 0.5% 0.0% -0.4% 0.0% -1.3%
Italy (Total; Value) #N/A 0.0% -0.4% -2.9% -1.1% -1.5%
UK (EU): Vol 0.8% 1.6% 0.3% 11.3% 6.7% 3.6%
Shaded areas calculated on a one-month lag due to lagging data
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