German Retail Sales Fall for Second Month as Economy Struggles

German retail sales fell for a second month in March, adding to signs that Europe’s largest economy is struggling to recover.

Sales, adjusted for inflation and seasonal swings, dropped 0.3 percent from February, when they fell a revised 0.6 percent, the Federal Statistics Office in Wiesbaden said today. That’s in line with the median of 21 estimates in a Bloomberg News survey. From a year earlier, sales declined 2.8 percent.

Germany’s Bundesbank last week cast doubt on a first-quarter recovery, citing sluggish industrial output and cold winter weather. Business confidence fell for a second month in April and economists from UBS AG to Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc predict the European Central Bank will cut interest rates this week to foster growth. The German economy contracted 0.6 percent in the final three months of 2012.

“The weather was extreme and that had an impact not only on construction but also on retail sales,” said Andreas Scheuerle, an economist at Dekabank in Frankfurt. Still, sales jumped 3.1 percent in January and “consumption should have been strong in the first quarter,” he said.

The German Labor Agency will release unemployment data for April at 9.55 a.m. in Nuremberg today. Joblessness is expected to increase by 2,000, with the unemployment rate holding at 6.9 percent, according to separate surveys.

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