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Euro zone retail sales rise beats expectations in March

BRUSSELS, May 6 (Reuters) - Euro zone retail sales rose by more than expected in March, data showed on Thursday, pointing to pent-up consumer demand as pandemic lockdowns ease.

The European Union’s statistics office Eurostat said on Thursday that retail sales in the 19 countries sharing the euro jumped 2.7% month-on-month in March for a 12.0% year-on-year surge.

Economists polled by Reuters had expected a 1.5% monthly rise and a 9.6% annual gain.

The sales were driven mainly by demand for non-food products excluding automotive fuel, which jumped 4.6% in March against February for a 25.0% year-on-year rise. Online purchases surged 37.2% year-on-year, Eurostat said.

Internet supermarket Amazon.com Inc posted record profits in the first quarter and signalled that consumers would keep spending, making it one of the biggest winners of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Since the start of the coronavirus outbreak, shoppers have relied increasingly on Amazon for delivery of home staples, and the company sees this trend continuing post-pandemic, particularly for groceries. (Reporting by Jan Strupczewski; editing by Philip Blenkinsop)

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