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Economy in Brief

Retail Sales Continue To Fall In The Euro Area
by Louise Curley April 6, 2009

The value of retail sales excluding motor vehicles and motorcycles in the Euro Area had risen each month since the series began in 1995 until September of last year. (In the Euro Area, retail sales, excluding motor vehicles and motorcycles, are reported in index form with a base of 2005=100.) Since then, they have declined in four of the five subsequent months. By February 2009, they were 2.7% below February 2008

In general, retail sales tend to show increases in year to year growth reflecting the growing demands of an increasing population. Even in mild recessions, retail sales tend to increase. The growth in retail sales in the Euro Area has tended to be lower than that in either the UK or the US, as can be seen in the first chart. In the last four months retail sales in the Euro Area show much smaller declines in sales relative to the US but slightly larger declines than the UK. (The chart shows recession shading for the US.)

Good data for retail sales, like data on employment, production and such, take time to compile and by the time they are published, then current conditions may well have changed. Measures of consumer and business confidence help in judging current sentiment and they have recently shown some slight improvement. The stock markets also reflect economic sentiment and markets around the world have improved in the very recent past.. The second chart plots the daily price of stocks in the Euro Area, the UK and the US on a log scale.

Retail sales ex motor vehicles and motor cycles (2005=100) Feb 09 Jan 09  Dec  08  Nov 08  Oct 08 Sep 08 Feb 09/Feb 08
EURO AREA  105.97 106.38 106.10 106.59 107.36 108.70 -2.66
United Kingdom 109.57 110.64 106.91 109.98 110.71 116.41 -2.14
United States 107.72 106.76 105.12 108.94 112.42 116.16 -6.04
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