Euro zone retail sales defied expectations of a rise in July and fell against June despite the lifting of Covid-19-related restrictions on economies, with clothes and shoes leading the decline with double digit falls. 

The European Union's statistics office Eurostat said retail sales in the euro zone fell 1.3% month-on-month for a 0.4% year-on-year rise. 

Economists polled by Reuters had expected a 1.5% monthly gain and a 3.5% annual increase. 

Eurostat said sales of food, drinks and cigarettes were flat month-on-month and 1.5% up year-on-year, but sales of non-food products fell 2.9% on the month and were only 0.5% higher on the year. 

Sales of textiles, clothes and shoes plummeted 10.6% on the month and 25.8% year-on-year. 

Even sales of petrol at gas stations, which rose in double digits month-on-month in May and June, were only 4.3% higher on the month in July and plunged 10.8% year-on-year, despite the start of the holiday season.