October 31, 2018 / 8:34 AM / 18 days ago

German retail sales suffer sharpest fall in more than five years

FILE PHOTO - People walk through the Mall of Berlin shopping centre during its opening night in Berlin, September 24, 2014. REUTERS/Thomas Peter/File Photo

BERLIN (Reuters) - German annual retail sales fell sharply in September, confounding economists’ expectations for an increase, data showed on Wednesday, adding to signs that the long boom in Europe’s largest economy may be drifting to a close.

Spending by German shoppers fell by an adjusted 2.6 percent in September compared to the year before, data from the Federal Statistics Office showed. That was its sharpest drop since June 2013 and compared with a forecast for growth of 0.9 percent.

The steep drop comes after years of rising employment, which drove a consumer boom that sustained the economy even at times when global demand for Germany’s exports slackened. More recently, an uptick in inflation pointed to turbulence ahead.

Retail sales are a volatile indicator often subject to revision.

Somewhat moderating the bleak figures, statisticians said the fall was partly attributable to retail sales in September 2017 having been unusually strong. Last September also had one more shopping day than this year’s.

Signs of belt-tightening were particularly clear in the textiles and clothing sectors, where a real fall of 9.6 percent was recorded. Sales of food, drink and tobacco dropped 3 percent.

Reporting by Thomas Escritt; Editing by Michelle Martin

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