October 30, 2018 / 7:59 AM / 6 months ago

French consumer spending falls far short of expectations in September

FILE PHOTO: Customers queue up as they wait the opening of the main shop of French luxury group Hermes in Paris, France, September 23, 2015. REUTERS/Charles Platiau

PARIS (Reuters) - French consumer spending fell in September by far more than expected, due to a drop in new car purchases and lower energy spending, according to data from the INSEE statistics agency.

Consumer spending fell 1.7 percent in September after rising 1.1 percent in August, which was revised up from a preliminary reading of 0.8 percent, INSEE said on Tuesday.

The result not only fell short of economists’ average estimate for a drop of 0.4 percent in a Reuters poll but even exceeded the worst forecast in the sample, which had stood at -1.6 percent. FRGPC=ECI

Spending on transport equipment dropped 7.9 percent in the month after rising 8.7 percent in August driven by a plunge in car sales, INSEE said.

The drop came after the tougher new Worldwide Harmonised Light Vehicle Test Procedure (WLTP) became mandatory from the start of September, forcing some car makers to push sales of older models in August via discounts.

Energy spending was also weaker, falling 1.2 percent amid warm temperatures.

For the whole of the third quarter, consumer spending was up 0.6 percent and was the main driver of growth in the period.

The following is a table of the main figures, which show percentage changes on a month-on-month basis unless otherwise stated:

Reporting by Leigh Thomas; Editing by Sudip Kar-Gupta

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