BRUSSELS – Retail sales in the euro zone were much weaker than in expected in December despite the Christmas shopping season, amid a record rise in consumer prices, data showed on Friday.
The European Union’s statistics office Eurostat said retail sales in the 19 countries sharing the euro fell 3% month-on-month for a 2.0% year-on-year rise. Economists polled by Reuters had expected a 0.5 monthly fall and a 5.1% annual rise.
Sales via the internet, which had boomed during pandemic lockdowns when shops were closed, were 3.9% down month-on-month in December and 3.2% lower than a year earlier as most governments had lifted restrictions on in-person shopping.
Still, retail sales of non-food products, excluding automotive fuel, fell 5.2% on the month through they were still 3.1% higher than 12 months earlier.
Consumer inflation in December reached 5.0% year-on-year mainly because of surging energy prices, but even without energy, prices were 2.8% higher than a year earlier, curbing consumers’ purchasing power.