Spain’s retail sales dived in April, showing the biggest fall since the figures started being collected in 2003.
Sales fell 9.8% last month compared with the same month last year, after adjusting for calendar differences, according to official figures from the National Statistics Institute.
The fall was much worse than had been expected, and marked the 22nd consecutive month of declining sales.
Sales had fallen by 3.8% in March.
Without adjusting for calendar effects, retail sales fell 11.3% in April having dropped 4% in March.
It is the latest bad news from the Spanish economy, which saw the level of risk attached to its government bonds hitting record levels on Monday after it emerged on Friday that banking group Bankia was going to need a bigger bail-out than had been expected.
Spanish shoppers are being discouraged by government austerity measures, rising taxes and Europe’s highest rate of unemployment.
Employment in the retail sector was down 1.2% in April from the same month in 2011.
The unemployment rate is over 24%, while the economy is back in recession having contracted in the last three months of 2011 and the first three months of 2012.
On Tuesday, a report from the Bank of Spain predicted that the recession would continue in the second quarter of 2012.
“Available indicators for the second quarter are still scarce but they do anticipate that activity will continue contracting in this period,” the report said.