German Retail Sales Post Biggest Monthly Jump in Six Years

German retail sales rose the most in more than six years in January as falling unemployment bolstered consumer confidence.

Sales, adjusted for inflation and seasonal swings, jumped 3.1 percent from December, when they dropped 2.1 percent, the Federal Statistics Office in Wiesbaden said today. That’s the biggest increase since December 2006, the office said. Economists forecast a 0.9 percent gain, according to the median of 20 estimates in a Bloomberg News survey. From a year earlier, sales rose 2.4 percent.

The German economy, Europe’s largest, is recovering from its fourth-quarter slump. Factory orders, industrial production and exports rose in December and sentiment has improved among entrepreneurs, investors and consumers. With unemployment near a two-decade low and a shortage of skilled labor, German workers won wage deals of as much as 6.5 percent last year.

Retail sales data “are extremely volatile and subject to major revisions, but they do fit the view that the contraction of the German economy in late 2012 was an aberration to be followed by a strong rebound,” said Holger Schmieding, chief economist at Berenberg Bank in London. “The recovery will spread to other parts of the euro zone from the second quarter onwards.”

The statistics office said it recalculated the retail sales series using 2010 as a base year.