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Surprise fall for euro zone December retail sales

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Surprise fall for euro zone December retail sales

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Euro zone retail sales fell in December. They had been expected to a rise.

There were equal declines in the food and non-food sectors, a sign that consumers in the countries using the euro remained reluctant to spend even in the key holiday period.

The European Union’s statistics office Eurostat said retail sales fell by 0.6 percent month-on-month, for a 0.9 percent year-on-year decline.

Economists had expected a 0.5 percent month-on-month rise and a 0.2 percent increase year-on-year.

The largest decreases were in Malta, Slovenia, Ireland, and Lithuania and the greatest increases in Portugal and Poland.

A number of European retailers, including Germany’s Metro, France’s Carrefour and Britain’s Tesco, have said snow and freezing temperatures across the region in December hit sales, particularly for non-food items.