In the latest raft of economic woes to his Europe’s largest economy, retail sales were revealed to have fallen by 4.3 percent on the month in December. The gloomy figure, released by the state statistics office, marks the fastest rate of decline in 11 years. Sales also fell by 2.1 percent year-on-year, Germany’s Federal Statistics Office said in a statement, marking the biggest slump since a 3 percent fall in September. A spokesman said the fall, the sharpest since 2007, was partly due to the comparison with a strong November which was boosted by pre-Christmas shopping and one-off discount days like Black Friday.
Retail sales saw a 1.9 percent increase in November.
Germany was feared to have been skirting on the edge of recession territory after a string of disappointing data pointing towards a slowdown in the economy.
Berlin had left global investors on edge after it was announced the German economy had contracted in the third quarter.
Figures released last year revealed the economy had shrunk by 0.2 percent in the third quarter, marking its first contraction since 2015.
But Europe’s economic powerhouse is almost certain to have avoided sinking into the red after preliminary data showed Germany grew by 1.5 percent in 2018.
It did, however, mark the weakest rate in five years and sources have said the government has cut its economic growth forecast for 2019 to 1.0 percent from 1.8 percent.
An official estimate of fourth quarter growth will be released in February, but the preliminary suggests the economy was likely to have grown in the final months of 2018.
It followed a string of lacklustre numbers, including industrial output dropping 1.9 percent on the month in November.
Meanwhile, the manufacturing sector in Germany also nodded to companies shifting down a gear with new orders falling at the fastest rate in four years.
Markit’s Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) for manufacturing was this month revealed to have tumbled to a 33-month low of 51.5 in December.
But in more positive news for the German economy, consumer sentiment picked up heading into February.
GfK market research group’s consumer sentiment indicator rose to 10.8 points from a revised 10.5 points the previous month.
In other eurozone news, Italy was plunged into recession territory today after the economy shrunk in the final quarter of last year.
The Italian economy contracted by 0.2 percent in the final three months of last year after a decrease of 0.1 percent in the third quarter of 2018.