This latest decline in sales was the sharpest seen for five months and contributed to accelerated contractions in retailers’ spending on goods for resale and gross margins.
Concurrently, the sector saw a steeper monthly increase in average prices paid for purchases, with fresh produce reportedly up in price.
The headline Markit Italy Retail PMI – which measures changes in like-for-like sales on a monthon-month basis – registered at 45.5 in February, down fractionally from January’s 45.6 and its lowest level since September last year.
Sales were down sharply compared with the same month the year before, with the rate of decline on a year-on-year basis being the fastest seen for seven months.
Where a decrease in sales was recorded, companies commented on unfavourable weather, lower footfall and waning consumer spending power.
Retailers generally underperformed relative to their sales targets in February.
The index measuring actual performance versus plans was in fact at its lowest level since July 2016 and below its long-run series average.
Nevertheless, latest data showed optimism among retailers towards the month-ahead outlook for sales.
The level of confidence was at a three-month high.
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