A woman looks at meat in a supermarket in Saint-Andre-de-la-Marche
Brussels - MENA
Retail sales across the 18 countries of the eurozone sank 1.3 percent in September, data showed Wednesday, in another sign that slumping demand is hurting the European economy.
Germany, usually the eurozone's economic engine, suffered the biggest drop, losing a whopping 3.2 percent in one month, the EU's official Eurostat agency said.
It was followed by a 2.5 percent fall in closely watched Portugal, which completed a massive debt bailout programme earlier this year after adopting a raft of tough economic reforms.
Rises in retail sales came only in smaller eurozone countries, such as Malta, Luxembourg and Austria.
Consumer demand is a key driver of the economy, and attracting shoppers back into stores is crucial if the eurozone is to get back on track after years of debt crisis.
In struggling France, the eurozone's second biggest economy, retail sales suffered a 0.7 percent monthly fall in September.
Over the past year, eurozone retail sales have grown only a slight 0.6 percent, hardly enough to lift the economy and stave off the threat of a triple-dip recession.
In other worrying data, a key survey showed that private sector activity was losing steam in the eurozone.
In the latest reading of the purchasing managers' index (PMI) by the Markit analysis group, the eurozone composite output PMI edged up from 52.0 to 52.1 in October, slightly below the first estimate of 52.2.
Consistent with earlier showings, the data showed Ireland leading the way in economic activity and France lagging.