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German Retail Sales Tumble in January as Lockdown Bites

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BERLIN Reuters German retail sales tumbled more than expected in January as the COVID19 lockdown and the withdrawal of a temporary cut in sales tax hit consumer spending in Europes largest economy, data showed on Tuesday.

The Federal Statistics Office said retail sales fell 4.5 on the month in real terms after an upwardly revised decline of 9.1 in December. The January reading undershot a Reuters forecast for a decline of 0.3.

This decline can be explained by the ongoing coronavirus lockdown, which meant a closure of many retail stores since Dec. 16, 2020, the statistics office said.

The end of a temporary sales tax cut may also have contributed as many consumers made big ticket purchases before the end of 2020 to save money.

Fashion retail sales plunged 76.6 yearonyear, while sales of groceries were up 4.3 yearonyear as supermarkets and convenience stores remained open.

Online retailers continued to benefit from shifting consumer habits with sales up 31.7.

Chancellor Angela Merkel and state premiers closed most shops and services in midDecember after a partial lockdown for bars, restaurants and entertainment venues failed to push down infections.

Merkel and state premiers are due to meet again on Wednesday to discuss a gradual easing of lockdown measures that are currently in place until at least March 7.

Reporting by Caroline Copley; Editing by Riham Alkousaa and Andrew Heavens

Source Reuters

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