What is wrong with this picture?

real change
in retail trade
April08/april 07
U.S. 1.1%
Europe 15 -2.9%
Europe 27 -0.8%
April08/Dec07
U.S. -0.3%
Europe 15 -1.2%
Europe 27 -0.2%

How can it be that the U.S., pounded hard by the subprime crisis, has maintained stronger retail sales than Europe? If we believe these figures, real retail sales in the U.S. are up over a year earlier, while real retail sales in Europe are down substantially. Germany is down 5.6% over the past year, Spain is down 3.3%.

Even over the past four months, the U.S. has just had a mild decline in retail sales, while the Europe 15 has plunged (this grouping includes all the countries in the euro zone, which leave out Britain, which has been doing relatively well).

Something is odd here.

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