Euro zone retail sales, a proxy for consumer demand, were much weaker than expected in July, pulled down mainly by a sharp fall in the number of goods bought online.
The European Union's statistics office Eurostat said on Friday that retail sales in the 19 countries sharing the euro fell 2.3% in July against June, but were still 3.1% higher than in July 2020.
Economists polled by Reuters had expected a 0.1% monthly increase and a 4.8% year-on-year rise.
June sales were revised up a little, to a rise of 1.8% from 1.5% month-on-month and to 5.4% from 5.0% year-on-year.
Internet And Mail Order Sales
Eurostat said internet and mail order sales fell the most in the month in July, declining 7.3%, while sales of automotive fuel dropped 1.6% and sales of food were down 0.7% on the month.
Still, measured against July 2020, all the retail sales numbers were up, with online sales 11.2% higher, automotive fuel up 0.6% and food sales 1.1% stronger.
The largest monthly decreases in total retail trade were registered in Ireland (-5.9%), Germany (-5.1%) and Austria (-3.9%), while Croatia (+2.5%), Malta (+2.3%) and Luxembourg (+2.2%), saw the highest growth among member states for which data are available.
The highest annual increases in total retail trade were seen in Bulgaria (+20.2%), Croatia (+12.9%) and Lithuania (+12.4%). Decreases were registered in Luxembourg (-5.6%), Austria (-2.4%), Germany (-0.3%) and Spain (-0.1%), data showed.
Elsewhere, British retail sales unexpectedly fell in July, suggesting at least some consumers skipped shopping to follow England's run in the Euro 2020 soccer tournament, or stayed at home due to rising COVID-19 cases.