Retail sales in Greece contain their decline in May

The decline in Greek retail sales markedly decelerated in May, as bumper tourism helped offset the country’s biting recession, data by Hellenic Statistical Authority (ELSTAT) showed on Wednesday.

Retail sales by volume declined by 2.2 percent year-on-year from a revised 14.5 percent drop in the previous month.

That was their slowest pace of decline since September 2011, according to the figures.

“Tourism increased significantly in May. Retail sales were also helped by the fact that Easter fell in May this year,” Nikos Magginas, an economist with National Bank, told Reuters.

Hit by the country’s record, austerity-fueled recession, retail sales by volume fell 12 percent in 2012, bringing the sector’s total contraction in 2009-12 to 34 percent.