Spanish savers force factories into go-slow

Spanish savers force factories into go-slow
The Arenas shopping centre in Barcelona: production of durable goods has plummeted in recent months. Photo: Tomás Fano
Spaniards just aren't buying big ticket items like cars and washing machines and this falling demand saw Spain's factories cut production for the 20th straight month in April, official figures showed on Friday.

Spain's factories and utilities lowered overall output by 1.8 percent over the year to April, after correcting for seasonal variations like the number of working days in the month, the National Statistics Institute (INE) said in a preliminary report.

Industrial production in Spain has now fallen on an annual basis every month since September 2011 as the economy struggles in a double-dip recession, still unable to recover from the implosion in 2008 of a decade-long property bubble.

Unemployment stood at more than 27 percent of the workforce in the first quarter and the government is predicting a 1.3-percent economic decline this year even as it pursues an austerity programme in the midst of the recession.

People are keeping their wallets shut and official data show retail sales slid by 2.6 percent in April, the 34th consecutive decline.

With little demand for their goods, manufacturers slowed production lines, especially for big ticket items like cars and washing machines.

A breakdown of the latest report showed output of consumer goods rose 0.9 percent. Production of durable consumer goods slumped 12.4 percent, however,
while factories boosted output of non-durable consumer goods such as food or paper by 2.6 percent.

Output of business equipment edged up 0.4 percent.

Spanish producers cut their output of intermediate goods used in manufacturing, such as chemicals, by 4.7 percent.

Utilities lowered energy output by 3.4 percent.

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