Euro zone retail sales rebounded more than expected in December as Christmas shopping for clothes and shoes caused a surge in sales compared to November.

France and Belgium recorded double digit monthly jumps, data showed today. 

The European Union's statistics office Eurostat said retail sales in the 19 countries sharing the euro rose 2% month-on-month in December, beating consensus forecasts in a Reuters poll of a 1.6% increase. 

Measured against December 2019, retail sales were 0.6% higher despite lockdowns caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, and twice as much as expected by economists. 

Eurostat said monthly sales of shoes and clothes surged 12.4% in December after a 30.5% drop in November.

This offset a 7% monthly fall in sales of electrical goods and furniture and smaller falls in computer equipment and books, pharmaceuticals and shopping over the internet. 

The surge in retail sales, a proxy for consumer demand, was the most pronounced in France, where they rose 22.3% against November, and in Belgium, where they went up 15.9%, offsetting a 9.6% slump in Germany. 

Compared to the same time in 2019, retail sales showed a 5.6% rise in food, drinks and tobacco in December, which helped compensate for a sharp fall in sales of petrol amid bans of travel in lockdowns. 

Year-on-year sales of non-food products also showed a 0.8% easing, despite much of the trade moving to the internet where orders were up 27.5% against December 2019.