Retail sales in Germany grew in January at the fastest monthly rate in more than six years.
Adjusted for inflation and seasonal factors, they were up by 3.1 percent from December.
That was a rebound from the deep fall in December – when sales slumped 2.1 percent.
The unexpectedly strong figures confirm signs that Europe’s largest economy has turned the corner after a dismal end to 2012.
The notoriously volatile indicator showed retail sales jumped by 2.4 percent from January last year, compared with a 3.7 percent annual drop the previous month.
Germany’s economy shrank in the fourth quarter more than at any time since the height of the 2009 financial crisis, as exports – usually the backbone of the economy – suffered, with eurozone countries in recession and the global economy cooling.
But sentiment indicators reinforce economists’ expectations that Europe’s growth engine will return to moderate expansion in the first three months of this year.