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Eurozone retail sector ends 2017 on solid footing

Staff Writer |
December saw a ninth consecutive monthly rise in like-for-like sales at eurozone retailers, thereby equalling the longest period of growth in the series history (level with that seen in 2006).

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Rates of expansion quickened in Germany and France, while monthly retail sales fell only marginally in Italy.

The headline IHS Markit Eurozone Retail PMI – which tracks the month-on-month changes in retail sales in the bloc‟s biggest three economies combined – rose to 53.0 in December, from 52.4 in November.

Sales were little-changed on an annual basis, following a solid increase in November.

Actual sales at eurozone retailers continued to fall short of previously-set plans during the final month of the year.

The degree of the shortfall was the weakest since April but remained marked overall.

The gap between actual and predicted sales widened in Italy, while it closed in France.

Meanwhile, targets were met in Germany.

Gross margins faced by eurozone retailers were squeezed further in December.

The rate of decline, however, was the least marked since April 2007, and modest in the context of historical data.

Gross margins were unchanged in Germany, while they were squeezed to a lesser extent in France.

Italy posted a further sharp decline.

Average input costs facing retailers operating in the eurozone increased at a weaker pace during December.

The rate of inflation softened to a fourmonth low, and was in line with the long-run survey average.

Price pressures eased across each of the „big-three‟ eurozone economies.

Buoyed by higher consumer demand, eurozone retailers hired additional staff members for the twenty-sixth time in as many months at the end of the fourth quarter.

Moreover, the rate of job creation accelerated to a six-month high and was among the sharpest recorded since data collection began in January 2004.

Job creation was evident in each of the three monitored economies, and sharpest in France.

Meanwhile, retailers raised their purchasing activity for the fourth successive month.

The rate of expansion was the most marked since April 2011.

In turn, this contributed a further marked build-up of stocks of goods.

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