Spanish retail sales plunge nearly 10%

Spanish retail sales fell 9.8 percent in April over the previous month, the biggest monthly drop since the statistical series began in 2003, the national statistics institute said Tuesday.

Retail sales fell 3.8 percent in March as Spain, which is struggling with an unemployment rate of 24.4 percent, fell back into recession in the first quarter.

The retail sales figure for April was down 11.3 percent from the same month last year, compared with a 4.0 percent annual drop in March, the statistics institute said in a statement.

It blamed the sharp drop in retail sales on the economic contraction, government austerity measures and higher taxes which have left consumers with less money to spend.

The Spanish government forecasts the economy will shrink 1.7 percent this year as it continues to feel the effects of the collapse of a property boom in 2008 before expanding 0.2 percent next year.

It has slashed spending and raised taxes as it struggles to convince investors that it can slash the public deficit to within a European Union limit of 3.0 percent of GDP in 2013 from 8.9 percent last year.

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