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Retail sales drop for June as consumers remain cautious

German retail sales fell by 0.9 percent in June from the previous month, according to provisional figures published Friday by the National Statistics Office (Destatis), following a sharp rise the previous month.

Retail sales drop for June as consumers remain cautious
Photo: DPA

Analysts polled by Dow Jones Newswires had forecast a June decrease of just 0.3 percent.

On an annual basis, retail sales in the biggest European economy gained 3.1 percent, in large part because there was one more shopping day this year than last, the Destatis data showed.

German shoppers were thus still holding back even as the economy surged out of its worst postwar recession thanks to strong performances by exporters.

Third quarter results released so far have underscored robust earnings in the auto, chemical and public works sectors.

Consumer sentiment has improved and unemployment could fall further, but the stores are not really seeing any benefit so far.

“Despite the surprisingly favourable labour market development, private consumption is not picking up,” Commerzbank economist Ralph Solveen said.

In the first six months of the year, retail sales slipped by 0.4 percent from their level in the same period of 2009.

The medium-term measure is considered more reliable than monthly data, which are often revised later on.

A provisional monthly rise of 0.4 in May was revised sharply higher on Friday to a gain of 3.0 percent, for example.

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German Amazon workers strike on ‘Black Friday’

Amazon workers in Germany started a three-day strike Thursday timed to disrupt the online retailer's "Black Friday" sales bonanza.

German Amazon workers strike on 'Black Friday'
Signs for the Amazon strike in Leipzig. Photo: DPA

The strike, called by the powerful Verdi union, is set to last until Saturday and marks the latest escalation in a years-long battle with Amazon for better pay and working conditions.

“We estimate that around 2,500 people went on strike today, a higher number than in similar actions in the past and given the difficult circumstances caused by the pandemic, it's a big success,” a Verdi spokesman told AFP.

To limit the risk of Covid-19 infections, the union said it was not staging any rallies during the strike.

Amazon in a statement said the walkouts were not affecting customer deliveries since “the majority of employees are working as normal”.

The stoppage affected Amazon distribution facilities in Leipzig, Bad Hersfeld, Augsburg, Rheinberg, Werne and Koblenz.

Verdi has long wanted Amazon to sign on to regional wage agreements covering retail and e-commerce, and has organised numerous walkouts in recent years.

It also wants Amazon to improve health and safety at work, accusing the retail giant of not doing enough to protect staff from the coronavirus at some of its German sites.

Amazon defended its policies, saying it offered “excellent” wages, benefits and career opportunities in a “modern, safe” work environment.

The company employs more than 16,000 people in Germany and has taken on an additional 10,000 seasonal employees to cope with a boom in online shopping triggered by the pandemic.

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