The Bloomberg Euro-Zone Retail Purchasing Managers' Index rose in April to 48.4, from 44.1 in March, the slowest rate of decline since June 2008. Although sales have now fallen for 11 consecutive months, the rate of decline has steadily eased back from the series record low registered last November.
Retail sales again fell compared to one month earlier in each of the three largest euro economies. In all cases the rates of contraction slowed and the differentials between the three countries narrowed. Survey respondents reported that sales were aided by better weather and car scrapping incentives, and also noted some improvement in consumer sentiment compared to recent lows.
Italy continued to register the steepest overall fall in retail sales. The month-on-month sales index rose from 41.9 in March to 46.8 to indicate the weakest rate of decline since October 2007.
Retailers in Germany saw sales fall at the slowest pace in the current 11-month sequence of decline. Sales were down only modestly during April to represent a marked contrast to the steep rate of decline recorded at the start of the year. The month-on-month index for Germany picked up from 44.4 in March to 48.9.
France registered only a marginal decline in sales that was the weakest among the three countries covered, as has been the case throughout much of the past year. The month-on-month index rose from 45.7 to 49.2, indicating the smallest decline for three months.
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