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Retail

German retailers bemoan sluggish 2012 sales

Germany's National Statistics Office has said retailers have not been able to boost their 2012 revenues in inflation-adjusted terms. Preliminary data show the situation has been worst for department stores.

Despite record employment in 2012 and higher wages in many sectors of the economy, German retailers were not able to increase their sales from the levels reached in the two previous years.

Preliminary estimates released by the National Statistics Office (Destatis) on Friday indicated that retailers experienced 2.0 percent growth in revenues in 2012, compared with 2.7 percent inthe previous year.

But in real, inflation-adjusted terms, statisticians calculated a drop in sales of up to 0.3 percent last year which if confirmed would mark the first dip since 2009.

Tangible improvement not in sight

Figures available for October and November last year indicated that even pre-Christmas trade was below 2011 levels in adjusted terms.

The November data also revealed that business was particularly sluggish for big department stores across the country which posted a 4.2-percent drop in revenues year-on-year, while the online and mail-order business logged a 2.4-percent dip. Supermarkets by contrast were able to boost sales by 4.7 percent.

"The latest business confidence index by the Ifo economic think tank seems to suggest, though, that the downward trend may come to a halt early in 2013," Commerzbank economist Ulrike Rondorf told the Reuters news agency.

hg/pfd (dpa, AFP, Reuters)