UPDATE 1-Greek retail sales show strongest rebound in over two years

Mon Jun 30, 2014 6:25am EDT

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* Retail sales volume up 7.3 pct yr/yr
    * Strongest rebound since March 2010

 (Adds economist comment, background)
    ATHENS, June 30 (Reuters) - Greek retail sales rebounded in
April, data showed on Monday, with Easter shopping helping to
post the strongest rise in more than two years.
    Retail sales by volume rose 7.3 percent year-on-year after a
downwardly revised 1.2 percent drop in March, according to
statistics service Elstat. Data showed the increase was driven
mainly by strong apparel, footwear and supermarket sales.
    Greek economic data have begun to show signs of a turnaround
in recent months after a six-year recession that depressed
incomes and drove down consumer spending. 
    Elstat data showed April sales showed the highest percentage
rise since the agency began tracking the figure in 2012, and
National Bank economist Nikos Magginas said it represented the
sharpest increase in more than four years.
    "The improvement in consumer confidence, stronger tourism
and the coincidence of the Orthodox and Catholic Easter holiday
brought about the best retail sales reading since March 2010,"
he said.
    "Improved consumer confidence and the momentum in tourism
should continue to positively affect consumer sales in the
coming months."
    Hit by austerity policies imposed by EU/IMF international
lenders who bailed out Greece, the economy has shrunk by almost
a quarter over six years, suffering its most protracted
recession since World War Two.
    A key factor in the decline has been a 26 percent slump in
household consumption as record unemployment and wage cuts
slashed disposable incomes, with investment also falling
sharply.
    But first quarter gross domestic product data have shown a
positive contribution from consumption, which rose 0.8 percent
year-on-year, supporting projections that the economy will
emerge from recession this year.
    Athens and its international lenders expect private
consumption to remain weak this year, despite an anticipated
economic recovery of 0.6 percent, which is seen as driven by
tourism, investment and exports.
*************************************************************
    KEY FIGURES           APR   MAR     FEB     JAN    DEC
    Retail Sales* by     +7.3  -1.2**  +0.9    -0.4   -6.1
    volume y/y
    Retail Sales* by     +3.9  -3.8** -1.9    -2.9    -6.7
    revenue y/y
    -------------------------------------------------------
    * Includes fuels and auto lubricants
    ** revised

source: ELSTAT

 (Reporting by George Georgiopoulos and Angeliki Koutantou,
editing by Mark Heinrich)
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