Germany's retail sales fell for the first time in three months, defying expectations for a rise, data from the Federal Statistical Office showed on Thursday.
Retail sales declined 2.1 percent year-on-year in March, after a 4.4 percent rise in February, which was revised from 4.7 percent. Economists had expected sales to rise 2.9 percent.
The latest decline was the worst since last September, when sales fell 2.9 percent.
Among main components, sales of food declined the most, by 6.8 percent annually in March. Food, beverages and tobacco sales dropped 5.7 percent. Supermarkets and hypermarkets sales fell 5.5 percent.
Non-food sales were unchanged from a year ago. Within this sales in department stores decline 5.5 percent. Sales of pharmaceuticals and cosmetics fell 2.9 percent and those of clothing and footwear shrunk 1.1 percent. Sales of furnishing and household equipment rose 3.5 percent.
Internet and mail order sales grew 2.4 percent.
On a monthly basis, retail sales fell a seasonally and calendar adjusted 0.2 percent in March, reversing a 0.5 percent gain in the previous month, which was revised from 0.9 percent. Economists had expected a 0.5 percent decline.