Aug 29, 2008
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Spanish retail sales decline eases, no rebound seen

Aug 29, 2008

MADRID, Aug 29 (Reuters) - Spanish retail sales fell less than expected in July after steep summer sale discounts, but analysts saw no sign they had touched bottom following 8 straight months of decline.

July sales at Spanish stores ranging from supermarkets to cellphone shops fell 6 percent in year-on-year calendar adjusted terms, compared with a record 7.9 percent June decline, the National Statistics Institute reported on Friday.

The July result was well above a Reuters survey forecast for a 9.5 percent fall and analysts said they may have been driven by steep discounts as firms struggle to lure consumers during a severe economic slowdown, analysts said.

"It's a bit better than expected but it doesn't give us the impression economic conditions are improving and it could be companies cutting profit margins provided more support than consumer demand," said Citigroup strategist Jose Luis Martinez.

The biggest sales fall was in household goods which declined 11.5 percent after a 17.9 percent tumble in June.

Falls in other sectors were much smaller than in June, with food down 1.2 percent compared with a 6.8 percent June plunge.

Sales of personal goods, which include clothing, rose 2.2 percent in July after a 5.6 fall the previous month.

"The July figures are better than we expected and could have been boosted by the impact of the summer sales," said one Spanish broker, who asked not to be named.

He expected second quarter results for Spanish fashion house Inditex , due out on Sept 17, to reflect weak retail data seen throughout 2008.

Europe's largest clothing retail Inditex, owner of the Zara chain, generates nearly 40 percent of sales from Spain.

(Reporting by Manuel Maria Ruiz, Paul Day, Judy Macinnes, Andrew Hay, Jonathan Gleave, Editing by Adrian Wright

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