Eurozone retail sales grew marginally in March, reflecting weak consumer spending, and private sector activity growth geared down in April, separate reports showed Friday.
Retail sales edged up 0.1 percent month-on-month in March, slower than February’s 0.3 percent increase, Eurostat reported. This was also slower than the expected growth of 0.5 percent.
Sales of food, drinks and tobacco gained only 0.2 percent on month, following a 1 percent rise in February. Meanwhile, non-food products sales dropped 0.5 percent each in February and March.
On a yearly basis, growth in retail trade volume eased to a 5-month low of 0.8 percent from 1.8 percent in February. Sales were expected to grow 1.9 percent.
According to final data from IHS Markit, Eurozone economic activity expanded in April, but growth has downshifted in recent months.
The composite output index fell slightly to 55.1 in April from 55.2 in March. The flash reading was 55.2.
The headline index has signaled expansion in each of the past 58 months and remained above its average for that sequence of 54.0.
The services Purchasing Managers’ Index dropped to an 8-month low of 54.7 in April from 54.9 a month ago. The flash reading was 55.0.
The survey showed that private sector growth in Germany eased to a 19-month low and Italy’s activity growth hit a 15-month low. Similarly, Spain’s private sector growth weakened to a 4-month low. Meanwhile, France registered a faster growth in April.
Despite the drop, the PMI is not yet at a worryingly low level, but the survey details hint at further easing in the coming months, Chris Williamson, chief business economist at IHS Markit, said.
Eurozone retail sales data suggest that consumer spending had a weak first quarter and April’s composite PMI implies that the pace of GDP growth is unlikely to fully rebound after a slow first quarter, Jessica Hinds, an economist at Capital Economics, said.
But the economist remained fairly optimistic that the economy will continue to grow at a decent pace this year.
The currency bloc is forecast to grow 2.3 percent this year before easing to 2 percent next year, the latest Spring Forecast from EU, showed on May 3. The growth momentum is expected to moderate slightly as monetary stimulus is gradually withdrawn and global trade growth eases somewhat.