Europe's consumers are driving the bloc's unlikely recovery

Hollande BakeryREUTERS/Regis DuvignauFrance’s newly-elected President Francois Hollande enters a bakery during his visit in Tulle, May 11, 2012.

Retail sales came in bang on target for the eurozone in March.

Economists were expecting a 0.2% drop in February, compared to a buoyant January, which is exactly what happened. That still left sales up 3% year-on-year.

Retail sales have been one of the strongest points of the eurozone’s nascent recovery. Over the last few months, both Spanish and German sales have risen at the fastest pace in a decade.

Just a few months ago it looked like Europe might fall into its third recession in 7 years, but now the bloc is seeing what may be its first genuine recovery since the financial crisis.

Here’s the obvious uptick in retail sales:

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