LONDON -- The downturn in Europe sharpened in February as many major brands lost sales.
Sales in Europe fell 4.1 percent for the month, compared with a year ago, according to numbers published by ACEA, the European manufacturers association in Brussels.
Adam Jonas, analyst at Morgan Stanley in London, says consumers did some "buying ahead" in November and December in anticipation of price increases in some markets.
"But legitimately, the market is weak," Jonas says.
The United Kingdom, which had been strong in 2003 and 2004, dropped 10.5 percent for the two months.
The drop came on the heels of three record years as high interest rates sapped consumer confidence.