Euro zone retail sales rose by more than expected in March, data showed on Thursday, pointing to pent-up consumer demand as pandemic lockdowns ease.
The European Union's statistics office Eurostat said on Thursday that retail sales in the 19 countries sharing the euro jumped 2.7% month-on-month in March for a 12.0% year-on-year surge.
Economists polled by Reuters had expected a 1.5% monthly rise and a 9.6% annual gain.
On a year-on-year basis, the volume of retail trade in March 2021 increased by 25.0% for nonfood products, 17.1% for automotive fuels, and decreased by 1.1% for food, drinks and tobacco.
The sales were driven mainly by demand for non-food products excluding automotive fuel, which jumped 4.6% in March against February for a 25.0% year-on-year rise. Online purchases surged 37.2% year-on-year, Eurostat said.
In the EU, the volume of retail trade increased by 4.2% for non-food products and by 0.8% for food, drinks and tobacco, while it decreased by 2.3% for automotive fuels.
Among member states for which data is available, the highest monthly increases in total retail trade were registered in Denmark (+22.5%), the Netherlands (+8.4%), Germany and Lithuania (both +7.7%), Eurostat noted.
The largest decreases were observed in Croatia (-4.0%), Poland (-2.2%) and Austria (-1.9%).
Internet supermarket Amazon.com Inc posted record profits in the first quarter and signalled that consumers would keep spending, making it one of the biggest winners of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Since the start of the coronavirus outbreak, shoppers have relied increasingly on Amazon for delivery of home staples, and the company sees this trend continuing post-pandemic, particularly for groceries.
In February 2021, the retail trade volume increased by 4.2% in the euro area and by 3.8% in the EU, Eurostat added.