French retail giant Carrefour reported on Thursday a 7.5 percent drop in 2013 first-quarter sales compared with the same period a year earlier, as European gloom and unfavourable foreign exchange rates erased a contribution made by growth in emerging markets.
Sales at Carrefour, the world's second biggest distribution company after the US group Walmart, fell to 20.8 billion euros ($27.1 billion) from the 22.49 billion euro figure published for the first quarter of 2012, a statement said.
Carrefour is refocusing its activities and has decided to recalculate 2012 results to account for discontinued activities in Colombia, Greece, Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore, however.
That would give a first-quarter 2012 figure of 21.1 billion euros and mean that its sales this year represented an increase of 1.3 percent.
The quarterly sales figure was in line with market expectations, and illustrated the effect of austerity measures on European consumers, who have tightened their purse strings.
Other European retailers have also posted weak results, such as Tesco, which on Wednesday posted a 95 percent slump in net profit to £124 million (145 million euros, $189 million) in its 2012/2013 financial year, its first annual fall in 19 years.
Tesco noted however that the drop was also the result of a hit from a failed US unit and a write down on the value of its property portfolio in Britain.
In March, German retail group Metro said its 2012 profit had plunged to just 3.0 million euros and that in the current business year, it expected to generate "moderate growth in sales in spite of the continuing difficult business conditions."
Carrefour said Thursday that in France, sales dipped by 0.7 percent to 9.2 billion euros, while emerging markets showed more promising results.
Latin American sales were up by 14 percent to 3.9 billion euros at constant currency rates, though a depreciation of the Argentian and Brazilian currencies reversed that gain to a decline of 0.2 percent in euro terms.
Asian sales were stable at 2.1 billion euros, Carrefour said.
Its new boss, Georges Plassat, has drawn up a growth plan for the period through 2015, but acknowledged in March that 2013 would be a difficult year marked by an economic environment "that had no reason to improve."