Retail sales in Euro area (EA17) decreased 0.1% in February from January, when sales increased 0.3%, according to the statistical office of the EU, Eurostat.

In the same month, retail sales were down by 0.4% in the European Union (EU27) after rising 0.4% in January 2012.

Month-on-month, food, drinks and tobacco sales increased 0.6% in the EA17 and rose 0.4% in the EU27 in February, while non food sector remained stable in the EA17 and fell 0.3% in the EU27.

Among the member states, total retail sales decreased in ten states and increased in nine, on a monthly basis in February 2012.

Sales decreased the most in Slovenia, Poland and Romania by 5.0%, 2.7% and 2.5%, respectively.

Malta, Luxembourg and Denmark recorded the highest rise in sales of 4.7%, 2.2% and 1.9%, respectively.

The decrease in sales was led by the Euro zone’s largest member, Germany, where sales fell significantly for the second straight month.

However, sales rose strongly in France, and also picked up in Portugal and Spain, which are in the throes of austerity.

Year-on-year, food, drinks and tobacco sales declined 1% in the EA17 and 0.3% in the EU27, while non food sector fell 1.6% and 0.2%, respectively.

Among the member states, total retail sales decreased in eight states and fell in 13 in February, on an annual basis.

The largest decreases were recorded in Portugal, Bulgaria and Spain, where sales fell 9.6%, 6.4% and 6.2% respectively.

Highest increases were seen Estonia, Latvia and Denmark, where retail sales rose 14.8%, 10.0% and 8.1%, respectively.

Retail sales index recorded a 2.1% decline in the EA17 and a 1.1% fall in the EU27 in February 2012, compared with the same month a year ago.

The latest decrease in retail sales means that sales have fallen in all but two of the last seven months, although the agency has raised its estimate of the January increase to 1.1% from 0.3%.