Concerns about the economic situation in the eurozone have risen following the release of a new report regarding the region's retail sector.
Markit published its latest retail purchasing managers' index (PMI) today (28 March), which revealed that the downturn in this key industry accelerated throughout this month as the pressure builds on companies across the 17-nation member state bloc.
In a gauge where any score below 50 is indicative of contraction, the PMI fell to a level of 43.7 in March - its lowest point for ten months.
Meanwhile, Markit noted that the trend seen in the industry over the course of the first quarter of 2013 as a whole was the second-weakest since the corresponding three-month period four years ago.
The main driving factor behind this latest decline was the fact France's retail sector experienced its worst month on record, while Germany and Italy also remained in negative territory.
Trevor Balchin, senior economist at Markit, said such data "signals a deepening consumer recession" in the eurozone.
By Tony Aynsley