A seasonally adjusted index of retail sales was at 44.1 in September, its seventh consecutive contraction, compared with 47.8 in August, according to a survey of 440 retail executives compiled for Bloomberg LP by NTC Economics Ltd. The reading has stayed below 50, the level that signals a contraction in sales, since February.
Finance Minister Tommaso Padoa-Schioppa this week said the government would cut its growth forecast for next year as the rising cost of credit triggered by the collapse of the U.S. subprime mortgage market damps growth across the eurozone. Italy's economy expanded at the slowest pace in 1 1/2 years in the second quarter and growth has lagged behind the euro-region average for 11 years.
Here's the retail PMI chart, and remember, any reading under 50 means contraction.