BERLIN, May 31 (Reuters) - German retail sales unexpectedly fell in April, data showed on Wednesday, dampening hopes that private consumption will propel growth in Europe's largest economy this year.
The volatile indicator, which is often subject to revision, showed retail sales dropped by 0.2 percent on the month in real terms, the Federal Statistics Office said. That confounded forecasts for a 0.2 percent rise and came after an upwardly revised increase of 0.2 percent in March.
On the year, shops saw sales decline by 0.9 percent in April, contrasting with the consensus forecast for a 2.3 percent increase.
The German economy was for years powered by exports but consumption was a key source of growth last year and is also expected to play an important role this year as traditionally thrifty Germans spend. They are benefiting from record-high employment, a robust labour market, rising wages and low borrowing rates.
The retail sales data comes on the heels of a GfK survey that showed German consumer sentiment at its best in almost 16 years heading into June. (Reporting by Michelle Martin; Editing by Madeline Chambers)