Eurozone retail sales slipped back in February, falling 0.3 percent compared with January when they had jumped 0.9 percent, official data showed Friday.
Compared with a year earlier, retail sales by volume in the 17-nation eurozone were down 1.4 percent, reflecting the damage inflicted by the debt crisis as consumers cut spending.
For the 27-member EU, February retail sales were flat from January, when they had risen 0.8 percent, and down 0.2 percent from February 2012, the Eurostat statistics agency said.
On a monthly basis, Estonia reported the largest fall of 2.6 percent followed by France on 2.2 percent and Slovenia, 2.0 percent. Luxembourg posted a gain of 4.1 percent.
On an annual comparison, Spain showed the biggest drop of 9.7 percent, followed by neighbour Portugal on 5.3 percent and Estonia 4.5 percent while Luxembourg jumped 17.3 percent.
With recent data clouding the outlook, Howard Archer of IHS Global Insight said the February figures reinforced the belief that "consumers generally remain reluctant, or unable, to spend much across the single currency area.
The "economic fundamentals remain generally poor for consumer spending ... with unemployment very high and rising, and purchasing power limited by muted wage growth and tight fiscal policy," Archer said.
Eurozone unemployment hit a record 12 percent in February and is widely expected to go higher still.