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Valentina Romei in London

A decline in Italy’s retail gross sales ended two months of enchancment to boost fears for the fragility of restoration within the eurozone’s third-biggest economic system that dangers widening the area’s north-south hole.

Gross sales fell 2.2 per cent in July in contrast with the earlier month, marking a setback from June’s 12 per cent enlargement. The month-to-month determine implies that retail gross sales in July had been 7.2 per cent beneath the identical month final yr, official information confirmed on Tuesday.

Current figures “present that the tempo of restoration is prone to sluggish considerably past the ‘mechanical’ bounce in exercise seen within the third quarter”, mentioned Nicola Nobile, economist at Oxford Economics. “General, we keep our view that, after the sturdy rebound within the third quarter, the next quarterly positive factors within the Italian economic system within the fourth and thru 2021 can be rather more modest.”

On-line procuring rose 11.6 per cent as coronavirus-hit shoppers caught at dwelling took to their computer systems to purchase items, the nationwide statistics workplace mentioned. General gross sales dropped nonetheless, whereas meals gross sales had been broadly unchanged from final yr.

Non-food items particularly clothes and family home equipment fell, the Italian statistical company Istat mentioned.

“Wanting on the worth of gross sales for non-food merchandise, dramatic falls had been reported throughout all classes,” Istat mentioned.

The setback in Italy’s retail spending raises considerations of a slowdown within the financial restoration after the historic fall in output within the second quarter.

Industrial output is recovering extra rapidly than anticipated, however the dominant providers sector is affected by lowered worldwide tourism and fears of unemployment as soon as the federal government’s assist scheme ends.

Knowledge for different European nations have proven a correction in retail spending in July after a big rebound in June. Germany, the area’s largest economic system, reported a 0.9 per cent drop in gross sales, in contrast with the earlier month.

Nevertheless, in France and Germany, July’s retail gross sales had been stronger than in the identical month final yr, whereas for Italy – and to a smaller extent in Spain – the drop got here earlier than reaching pre-pandemic ranges, fuelling considerations that an uneven financial restoration may widen the north-south financial hole.