Retailers say consumer spending down 2.1% from 2012

(ANSA) - Rome, December 5 - Consumer spending continued to weaken in October compared with the same time last year, suggesting fearful shoppers are keeping their wallets closed, Italy's leading retailers organization said Thursday.

Confcommercio said that sales fell by 2.1% year over year, although they rose very slightly compared with September.

As well, the three-month moving average, which is adjusted for seasonal factors, also suggested a slight strengthening, the group said.

That hints at a possible end to the worst recession Italy has endured in 20 years, according to Confcommercio.

Premier Enrico Letta has said that he believes Italy has been gradually coming out of recession during the final three months of this year and will return to growth in 2014.

The continuing weakness of the labor market as well as rising taxes still weigh on consumers' disposable income and drag down spending, said Confcommercio.

But on the positive side, the recession has kept a lid on inflation, it added.

During October, demand for services and spending on food increased slightly compared to the previous month, it said.

Consumers have gradually been buying more food and drink since summer, the group noted.

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