Eurostat, the European Union’s statistics body, has one of the most complicated web addresses in the world, which means its site is essentially accessible via Google only to anyone unable to remember strings like epp.eurostat.ec.europa.eu. But once you’ve got through, you’ll find the latest update on European retail sales.
In September, Euro area sales fell by 0.2% in real terms compared with August, according to a first estimate that is likely to be revised in the coming months. In the traditionally better-performing EU-27 area, sales were up 0.1% in the same period.
Looking at the more meaningful year-on-year comparisons, among the EU states for which data are available, retail sales rose in thirteen and fell in seven, and remained stable in Germany. The strongest growth impulses came from the northern countries, including Estonia (+9.9%), Latvia (+7.9%), Sweden (+4.2%), the UK (4.0%) and Norway (+3.2%). And while Ireland has been reporting thinly positive growth rates again since July this year, it is the southern Euro periphery which continues to report the worst data, with Spain down by 12.6% and Portugal shrinking 5.8% in September. Greece reported a 9.1% slide for August – which is the latest data available as the September figure is still classified as ‘confidential’.
Looking at different channels and categories, food once again proved to be a fairly stable segment in the Euro area, while the biggest pressure continues to be on automotive fuels (-4.6% in August), electrical goods and furniture (-2.4%) and textiles, clothing & footwear (-1.5%). Meanwhile, mail order and internet sales are taking off rapidly outside the Euro area, with the category growing by 6.5% across the EU, compared with just 0.7% in the Euro area.
Finally, the chart below shows how EU retail sales have essentially failed to produce any sustainable growth in real terms since around 2009, while in the Euro area markets keep hovering around the 2005 level (as always, you can click on the thumbnail to see a larger version). It looks as though the Euro area will be losing at least a decade of growth as a result of the economic crisis. And when the crisis is over, the demographic factor is likely to kick in powerfully. Lots of challenges there for retailers and suppliers working to achieve growth in a market that has been stagnant for years and that has a largely stagnant long-term outlook as well.
Back in a couple of weeks, with some impressions of retailing in the provinces of Poland.
Have a good week,