Euro zone retail sales fall much more than expected in Aug

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – Euro zone retail sales fell much more than expected in August, data showed on Wednesday, pointing to weaker consumer demand as inflation remains high.

The European Union’s statistics office Eurostat said retail sales in the 20 countries sharing the euro fell 1.2% month-on-month for a 2.1% year-on-year decline in August.

Economists polled by Reuters had expected a 0.3% month fall and a 1.2% year-on-year decline.

The monthly fall was caused mainly by a sharp drop in mail orders and shopping on the internet which fell 4.5% and a drop in the sale of petrol, down 3.0%.

Year-on-year, the sales of fuel was even more pronounced at 7.7% and there was a 3.2% fall in the sales of food drinks and tobacco.

Euro zone inflation was 5.3% in August, well above the European Central Bank’s target of 2.0%.

(This story has been corrected to say 2.1%, not 21%, in paragraph 2)

(Reporting by Jan Strupczewski)