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Business

German 2004 Retail Sales Dropped

Despite reports of robust Christmas shop sales, retailers in Germany booked a decline in business in December, data showed on Wednesday. The figures underlined persistent weakness of domestic demand in the eurozone's biggest economy at the end of last year. The federal statistics office, Destasis, calculated that retail sales in Germany slipped by 0.3 percent month-on-month in December and fell by 2.7 percent year-on-year, hitting their lowest levels in 10 years. The Bundesbank published separate data that included car and petrol station sales and here, retail sales tumbled by an unexpected 1.25 percent in December from the figure for November. Taking the year as a whole, retail sales declined by 1.7 percent in 2004, after already falling by 0.6 percent in 2003 and by 2.2 percent in 2002, Destatis said. Analysts said the retail sales data suggested that consumer spending, the Achilles' heel of the German economy, stagnated at the end of last year.

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