November 5, 2015 / 10:07 AM / 4 years ago

Euro zone retail sales drop in September for first time in six months

A woman carries bags with purchases as she walks in front of a clothing store with its shop window decorated with discount signs in Strasbourg, France. REUTERS/Vincent Kessler - RTR4YQNQ

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Euro zone retail sales slipped for the first time in six months in September, against expectations of a slight increase, as spending on food and drinks declined sharply during the month.

The European Union’s statistics office Eurostat said retail sales in the 19 countries sharing the euro were 0.1 percent lower in September, but up 2.9 percent year-on-year.

Economists polled by Reuters had expected a 0.2 percent monthly increase and a 3.0 percent annual rise. In August, sales were unchanged month-on-month and up a revised 2.2 percent year-on-year.

Sentiment in the retail sector has risen steadily since June, with a pick-up in the views of both present and future sales. However, consumer confidence, as measured by the European Commission’s monthly economic sentiment survey, has weakened over that time.

The volume of broadly cheaper automotive fuel, which rose 1.6 percent in August, was flat in September. Sales of food, drinks and tobacco dropped by 0.6 percent after a 0.6 percent increase the previous month.

Non-food product sales, excluding automotive fuel, rose by 0.1 percent after a 0.5 percent decline in August.

Retail sales were flat month-on-month in the euro zone’s biggest economy Germany and declined by 0.4 percent in the second largest, France. No figures were available for Italy, but in Spain sales went up 0.5 percent.

In the 28 countries of the European Union, sales were up 0.3 percent in the month and 3.7 percent higher year-on-year.

Reporting By Philip Blenkinsop; editing by Robert-Jan Bartunek

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