European retail sales fell in March as rising fuel, utility and food prices left shoppers with less money to spend, the Bloomberg purchasing managers index showed. The gauge of sales growth in the euro region declined to a seasonally adjusted 48.2 from 52.4 in February. A reading below 50 indicates contraction. Sales also fell from 2007, according to the index, which is based on a survey of more than 1,000 executives compiled for Bloomberg News by NTC Economics Ltd.
In France, retail sales rose for the third month running, with the increase supported primarily by higher food & drink sales values. The rate of growth was weaker than the previous two months (the index slipped from 58.8 in February to 53.3), but nonetheless remained robust and in marked contrast to the contraction seen throughout Q4 of last year.