BERLIN, Jan 31 (Reuters) - German retail sales fell unexpectedly in December, data showed on Wednesday, dampening hopes that private consumption propped up growth in Europe's biggest economy at the end of last year.
The volatile indicator, which is often subject to revision, showed retail sales fell by 1.9 percent on the month in real terms, the Federal Statistics Office said. That compared with the Reuters consensus forecast for a fall of 0.3 percent and came after a downwardly revised 1.9 percent rise in November.
The data contradicts a spending trend in Germany, where consumers are revelling in record-high employment, a secure job market, rising wages and low borrowing costs, helping private consumption replace exports as the main growth driver.
On the year, retail sales also fell by 1.9 percent, confounding a Reuters consensus forecast for a 2.8 percent increase.
The retail sales data came after a GfK survey last week showed consumers felt more optimistic heading into February, unperturbed by political parties' failure to form a new government. (Reporting by Joseph Nasr; Editing by Paul Carrel)