© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Closed shops and empty area are seen at CAP3000 shopping mall in Saint-Laurent-du-Var © Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Closed shops and empty area are seen at CAP3000 shopping mall in Saint-Laurent-du-Var

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Euro zone retail sales defied expectations of a rise in July and fell against June despite the lifting of COVID-19-related restrictions on economies, with clothes and shoes leading the decline with double digit falls, data showed on Thursday.

The European Union's statistics office Eurostat said retail sales in the 19 countries sharing the euro fell 1.3% month-on-month for a 0.4% year-on-year rise. Economists polled by Reuters had expected a 1.5% monthly gain and a 3.5% annual increase.

Eurostat said sales of food, drinks and cigarettes were flat month-on-month and 1.5% up year-on-year, but sales of non-food products fell 2.9% on the month and were only 0.5% higher on the year. Sales of textiles, clothes and shoes plummeted 10.6% on the month and 25.8% year-on-year.

Even sales on petrol at gas stations, which rose in double digits month-on-month in May and June, were only 4.3% higher on the month in July and plunged 10.8% year-on-year, despite the start of the holiday season.

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