Valentina Romei in London

A decline in Italy’s retail gross sales ended two months of enchancment to lift fears for the fragility of restoration within the eurozone’s third-biggest financial 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 growth. The month-to-month determine signifies that retail gross sales in July have been 7.2 per cent under the identical month final yr, official knowledge confirmed on Tuesday.

Current figures “present that the tempo of restoration is more likely to gradual considerably past the ‘mechanical’ bounce in exercise seen within the third quarter”, stated Nicola Nobile, economist at Oxford Economics. “Total, we preserve our view that, after the sturdy rebound within the third quarter, the following quarterly features within the Italian financial system within the fourth and thru 2021 will probably be way more modest.”

On-line buying rose 11.6 per cent as coronavirus-hit customers caught at dwelling took to their computer systems to purchase items, the nationwide statistics workplace stated. Total gross sales dropped nonetheless, whereas meals gross sales have been broadly unchanged from final yr.

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

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

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 shortly than anticipated, however the dominant companies sector is affected by decreased worldwide tourism and fears of unemployment as soon as the federal government’s assist scheme ends.

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

Nonetheless, in France and Germany, July’s retail gross sales have 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 might widen the north-south financial hole.