German retail sales unexpectedly fell in December.
The Federal Statistics Office said they declined by 0.3 percent month-on-month following a sharp 1.9 percent fall in November. Analysts had predicted they would rise by two percent.
It was the fourth decline in the last five months, but economists remained hopeful of robust rates of consumption this year given low unemployment and rising wages.
On an annual basis, sales declined by 1.3 percent against expectations for a 1.1 percent increase. For the year as a whole, however, retail sales pushed up 1.2 percent, their strongest annual gain since 2005.
German retail sales figures, which are based on data from seven states, are notoriously volatile and are often revised in subsequent months.
Despite unusually cold winter weather in December, Germany’s HDE retailers association had described the Christmas holiday season as “a big leap forward” in terms of sales.