August 3, 2017 / 9:18 AM / a year ago

Euro zone retail sales surprise with robust growth in June

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - The volume of euro zone retail sales increased much more than forecast in June, in a new sign of the robust domestic consumption that is sustaining output expansion in the 19-country currency bloc, estimates released on Thursday showed.

FILE PHOTO: Shoppers cross the road in Oxford Street, in London, Britain August 14, 2016. REUTERS/Peter Nicholls/File Photo

Retail sales in the euro zone increased by 0.5 percent in June on the month, the European Union’s statistics office Eurostat said, well above market expectations of a 0.1 percent rise.

As inflation slowed in June to 1.3 percent, showing little signs of a future rebound, euro zone consumers spent more than in May when retail sales went up by 0.4 percent.

Inflation remained unchanged at 1.3 percent in July, preliminary estimates showed this week, raising expectations that retail sales may continue to grow healthily in July, helping the bloc start the third quarter with robust growth.

The euro zone’s economy expanded by 0.5 percent in the January-March period and by 0.6 percent in the second quarter.

Year-on-year, the volume of retail sales surged 3.1 percent in June, higher than the 2.6 percent rise forecast by economists polled by Reuters.

It was the highest expansion recorded this year, well above the downwardly revised 2.4 percent increase in May.

Month-on-month retail sales rose 1.0 percent in June for car fuel after a 0.6 percent growth in May.

Shoppers also bought more food, tobacco and drink products for which sales increased by 0.7 percent on the month, after they dropped 0.2 percent in May.

Shoppers were more inclined to spend both on durable and non-durable goods, in a sign that consumption is more widely spread across the population, as unemployment falls. In June unemployment reached its lowest rate in the euro zone since 2009.

Sales of non-durable goods such as clothes and footwear went up in June by 1.4 percent on the month, while consumers spent also 1.3 percent more on furniture and electrical goods.

Pharmaceuticals and medical goods were the only component of the indicator that showed a fall in June, dropping by 0.2 percent on the month after a 1.1 percent surge in May.

Among the largest economies of the euro zone, sales went up by 1.1 percent in Germany, the bloc’s biggest economy, more than twice than the 0.5 percent rise recorded in May.

Spain’s retail sales grew 0.7 percent while in the Netherlands they increased by 0.9 percent on the month.

France was the only major economy of the bloc to record a fall in sales. Shoppers there spent 0.3 percent less in June than in the previous month, partly offsetting the 0.5 percent rise recorded in May. Data for Italy were not available.

Outside the euro zone, Britain recorded in June a 0.3 percent drop in monthly retail sales, the second consecutive decline after the 0.3 percent fall in May.

Reporting by Francesco Guarascio @fraguarascio; editing by Robert-Jan Bartunek

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