The March data highlight a disappointing month for the eurozone retail sector, with like-for-like sales stagnating since February, and sales firmly down on an annual basis.
The weaker trend was seen across the „big-three‟ eurozone economies, with indices ticking down on these two metrics in each instance.
Retailers underperformed relative to set plans in each of the monitored economies, with frequent mention of adverse weather conditions. That said, business confidence hit a 12-year high, suggesting that, absent any further weather-related shocks, sales growth could return in the coming months.
Average purchase costs faced by euro area retail companies rose again in March, thereby continuing a trend that has been observed since July 2009. Moreover, the rate of inflation quickened from February and remained marked. Input costs rose to the greatest extent in Germany, followed by Italy and then France.
Strong input price inflation combined with strong competitive pressures contributed to a further squeeze on gross margins. Indeed, the rate of decline worsened from February and was the steepest since September last year.
The headline Retail Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) dipped to 50.1 from 52.3 in February.
Source: Markit economics, https://www.markiteconomics.com