The volume of retail trade in March decreased by 1.2 percent from February, reflecting an EU-wide trend. Figures by Eurostat show a sharp drop in trade as the coronavirus pandemic was spreading across EU states in March; volume went down by 10.4 percent in EU countries and by 11.2 percent in the euro area compared with February.
The rate in Malta registered the biggest drop in the six months under review since October, hot on the heels of a 0.8 percent increase in February. The decrease, however, is the third-lowest in the EU following Norway (-0.9%) and Hungary (-0.2%). Estonia is the only country to manage an increase, even if by a slight 0.1 percent while no data is available for the Czech Republic, Cyprus, Greece, Italy and the Netherlands.
The decrease across the EU was pushed down by significant decline in the non-food products, down by 21.3 percent, and automotive fuel sales, down by 19.3 percent. The drop was even more marked in Eurozone countries, registering a 23.1 percent and 20.8 percent decreases in non-foods and automotive fuel trade, respectively. The volume of trade for foods, drinks and tobacco rose by 4.7 percent in the EU and by 5.0 percent in the euro area.
Compared with March 2019, there was a general downward performance of 8.2 percent in the EU-27 and 9.2 percent in Eurozone countries.