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Retail

German retailers look to Christmas for sales boost

Shortly before Christmas, Germans lust for shopping appears to be waning. Retail sales in October were the worst in almost four years, raising fears for weak seasonal shopping.

German retail sales in October slumped by 2.5 percent in inflation-adjusted terms, marking the "strongest monthly decline" since 2009, the Federal Statistics Office said Friday.

Compared with October 2011, sales dropped by 0.8 percent in spite of the fact that there was one shopping day more in the same month this year, the statisticians said.

Especially weak in demand were textiles, clothing and shoes, while sales of foodstuffs climbed by 3.7 percent.

The October decline came as a surprise to analysts who had predicted a less steep drop of 0.2 percent compared with September.

Considering the data to be rather bad, Commerzbank analyst Ralph Solveen told Reuters news agency that they were just another sign of a shrinking German economy in the final quarter of 2012. He added though that he didn't believe consumption would crash because unemployment remained low and wages were still climbing in Germany.

Christian Schulz from Berenberg Bank told the same news agency that all hopes were now pinned on seasonal shopping around Christmas.

The German retail sector lobby group, HDE, has forecast overall retail sales in 2012 to rise by 1.5 percent, predicting record sales of 80.4 billion euros ($104 billion) for the months of November and December.

uhe/dr (Reuters, dpa)