PARIS, Mar 31 (Reuters) – French consumer spending unexpectedly stalled in February, before a new battery of coronavirus restrictions was imposed as warm temperatures slowed energy spending, the government said. Wednesday the statistics agency INSEE.

Consumer spending was unchanged from January, a period in which it had fallen 4.9% from the previous month, INSEE said. Economists polled by Reuters expected an average increase of 2.0% in February.

INSEE said that spending on manufactured products rose 3.4% in February due to the postponement and subsequent extension of the winter sales season.

However, this increase was largely offset by a 3.1% drop in energy spending, with milder temperatures at the end of the month after a relatively cold January. After two months of rise, the 2.2% reduction in food spending also weighed.

INSEE’s monthly survey of consumer sentiment showed on Tuesday that households had largely weathered the tighter restrictions imposed in March, with an unexpected surge in confidence.

(Reported by Leigh Thomas; edited by Catherine Evans; translated by Flora Gómez at the Gdansk newsroom)

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