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Friday, February 27, 2009

Europe's Retail Sector Contracts Again In February

The Bloomberg Euro-Zone Retail Purchasing Managers' Index, based on a mid-month survey of more than 1,000 executives in the euro area retail sector, fell from 44.0 in January to 42.3 in February. The results signaled an acceleration in the month-on-month rate of decline in sales revenues, in contrast to the easing seen over the previous two months and indicated a renewed weakening of consumer confidence and high street spending. Sales have now fallen for nine consecutive months.

Germany registered the smallest drop in retail sales of the three countries, and also saw the rate of decline moderate from the near-record pace seen in January. The month-on-month index for Germany rose from 41.7 to a four-month high of 45.4. Sales in Germany have fallen for nine successive months.

In France, retail sales fell at a five-year survey record pace in February, a marked reverse from the marginal rise seen the previous month. The month-on-month index fell from 50.5 to 42.6 as consumers shunned the high street.

Euro area retailers cut their employment levels for the eleventh consecutive month in February, with the rate of job losses matching December's five-year survey record. The employment index registered 47.4, from 47.5 in January. All three countries covered reported lower staffing levels, with the sharpest decline again seen in Italy. German retailers continued to shed staff at a marginal rate.

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