BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Euro zone retail sales increased by more than expected in May, aided by stronger sales of clothes and shoes as well as fuel for vehicles, European statistics office Eurostat said on Wednesday.
Compared to the previous month, May sales in the 19 countries sharing the euro currency increased by 0.4 percent, making for a 2.6 percent annual increase.
This was above a Reuters poll of 27 economists, which had on average forecast a 0.3 percent monthly rise and a 2.3 percent yearly increase.
The rise in sales was strongest in Latvia, Belgium and Estonia, while spending in Finland and Malta fell.
After a strong uptick of food, drinks and tobacco sales in April, euro zone consumers spent less on this category in May.
Eurostat slightly revised up its reading for April to 2.6 percent, from 2.5 percent previously, leaving the monthly change of a 0.1 percent rise unchanged.
Reporting by Robert-Jan Bartunek; Editing by Alastair Macdonald