French consumer spending rebounded 37% in May after lockdown eased

PARIS — French consumer spending rebounded in May as the country emerged from a coronavirus lockdown that triggered an unprecedented spending slump the previous months, official data showed on Tuesday.

The INSEE official stats agency said that consumer spending rose 36.6% in May from April, when it had plunged 19.1% and following a 16% drop in March.

A Reuters poll of 16 economists had an average forecast for a 30% increase in May, though estimates of the jump had ranged from 6% to 42.5% in light of the exceptional circumstances.

The French government began lifting restrictions on May 11 after the country spent nearly two months under one of the strictest lockdowns in Europe.

The lockdown left nearly all retail outlets but those deemed essential shuttered, plunging the euro zone’s second-biggest economy into its deepest recession on record in modern peace-time France.

Despite the rebound in May, consumer spending remained down 7.2% from pre-crisis levels in February, INSEE said. (Reporting by Leigh Thomas; Editing by Andrew Heavens)

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