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Italian spending power fell 1.5% in first 9 months of 2013

Consumer group warns situation even worse than officials realize

09 January, 13:31
Italian spending power fell 1.5% in first 9 months of 2013 (ANSA) - Rome, January 9 - The purchasing power of Italian households fell by 1.5% in the first nine months of 2013 compared with the same period in 2012, national statistical agency Istat said Thursday.

The figures showed a small improvement of 0.2% in the third quarter of 2013 compared with the second quarter, but the data was 0.8% weaker when compared with the same third-quarter period in 2012.

As bad as the trend is, the official figures severely under-estimate the declining purchasing power for Italian families, said consumer group Codacons. "The reality is, unfortunately, much worse," said Codacons President Carlo Rienzi.

"Families have suffered a decline in purchasing power at least three times higher than estimated by Istat".

Purchasing power generally measures the amount of goods one can buy, taking into account such factors as inflation.

To compound problems, the 2013 weakness follows a drop of 4.8% in purchasing power reported in 2012, added Codacons.

Overall, economic indicators suggest that 2013 will be remembered "as the worst year" in recent economic history, with spending on such necessities as medications falling by 2.5% in the first 10 months of the year and food spending falling by 1.3%, said Codacons. In separate reports, Istat said that discretionary spending by Italian households fell in the third quarter of 2013 compared with the same three months one year earlier. Spending fell by 0.7% in the July-through-September period of 2013 compared with the same months in 2012, the agency said.

However, "modest growth" was reported when third-quarter spending was compared with the April-to-June period, Istat added.

It also reported that families' disposable incomes rose by 0.5% in the third quarter of last year compared with the same period in 2012 and by 0.8% compared with the second quarter of 2013.

The agency said that was the first positive sign since the end of 2011 in income trends.

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