* Retail trade drops first time in three months
* Sales volumes drop in Germany, Spain, up in France
* Thrifty shoppers show recovery’s fragility
BRUSSELS, Aug 5 (Reuters) - Retail sales in the euro zone fell across the board for the first time in three months in June, official data showed on Monday, highlighting the drag of depressed household spending on the bloc’s fragile recovery.
The European Central Bank hopes for a gradual overall improvement later this year in the health of the 17-member single currency area, likely to be driven mainly by exports and a low interest rate environment.
France bucked the trend by registering an increase, but for the bloc as a whole the volume of retail trade fell broadly in line with expectations by 0.5 percent on the month. That followed a revised 1.1 percent rise in May, the EU’s statistics office Eurostat said on Monday.
Retail sales dropped by 0.9 percent on the year, against expectations of a 1.2 percent decline by economists polled by Reuters, following a revised 0.3 percent increase in May.
Shoppers in the euro zone spent more on automotive fuel in June, but it was not enough to offset a 0.6 percent drop in spending on food, drinks and tobacco and a 0.2 percent decrease in purchases of non-food items such as electronics, clothing and else.
The bloc’s largest economy Germany saw a 1.5 percent monthly fall in retail sales in June, the biggest decline since December last year, and sales volume in Spain was down 0.8 percent.
France, the bloc’s second largest economy, registered a 0.6 percent increase, following a 1.6 percent jump in May.
Across Europe, households are dealing with the aftermath of the 2008/2009 global financial crisis and the euro zone is in its longest recession since the creation of the euro in 1999.
Weak consumer spending is a concern for the ECB, which lowered its main interest rate to a record low of 0.50 percent in May, and said it will keep low rates for an extended period to help recovery to gain traction.