CORRECTED (OFFICIAL)-German retail sales fall in March as shoppers feel the cold

Tue Apr 30, 2013 6:26am EDT

(Corrects real month on month change after Statistics Office changes figure)

BERLIN, April 30 (Reuters) - German retail sales fell for the second month running in March, confounding expectations for a rise as an unusually cold winter discouraged customers from rushing out to buy spring fashions, the Federal Statistics Office said on Tuesday.

The notoriously volatile indicator fell month on month by a real 0.5 percent in March after dropping by a revised 0.6 percent in February. February's figure had originally been reported as a 0.4 percent rise.

Sales of textiles, clothes, shoes and leather goods fell by a real 12.7 percent, or a nominal decline of 10.7 percent, the steepest drop since May 2009, according to one statistician.

"The weather may have played a decisive role here: the average temperature in March was almost 7 percent lower than in the previous year," the Office said in a release.

With exports - the traditional backbone of Europe's largest economy - under pressure as trading partners in the euro zone and further afield also struggle, the German economy is increasingly relying on consumers to boost growth.

A survey by GfK market researchers on Tuesday showed German consumer morale rose to its highest level in more than 5-1/2 years going into May, as consumers count on rising wages and as a bailout for Cyprus eroded trust in the safety of bank deposits.

Germany's government now expects the economy to grow by 0.5 percent this year and 1.6 percent next, pulling away only slowly from a contraction at the end of last year as weak exports and a lack of investments continue to weigh. (Writing by Annika Breidthardt, editing by Gareth Jones)

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