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German retails sales slip amid cooling consumer confidence

German retailers suffered a second consecutive month of falling sales in September, coming down from robust growth earlier this year. Moreover, Germans' mood to spend appears to be waning further, a new survey suggests.

Retail sales in Germany slipped by 0.4 percent in price, calendar and seasonally adjusted terms in September, after falling by 0.2 percent in August, the Federal Statistics Office, Destatis, announced on Thursday.

The decline appears to mark the beginning of a downward trend in retail sales, which grew for most of the first half of 2013, and are still a modest 0.2 percent higher than in September last year.

Falling retail sales correspond with a slight cooling in German consumer confidence. A forward-looking survey compiled by the market research group GfK found a reduced willingness among Germans to spend more in November.

GfK's consumer sentiment indicator slipped from 7.1 points in October to 7 points in November - its first decline since January.

The reading is based on responses from about 2,000 households, and showed that Germans' willingness to buy dropped to 44.4 points in October from 45 points in September. Moreover, they expect their incomes to stagnate, which is mirrored by a drop in the respective subindex from 33.7 point to 32.7 points.

Germans do, however, appear more confident about the economy as a whole as an uptick in economic expectations from 10.7 to 11.3 suggests.

Noting that the latest index readings almost match the record levels reached last month, GfK described the buying mood among Germans as unbroken. The group confirmed its forecast made at the start of 2013 that private consumer spending would rise by 1 percent in real terms, and would remain a key pillar of economic growth in Germany.

uhe/mkg (dpa, AFP, AP)