Consumer spending fell by 4.4 percent in the first four months of this year, compared to 3.3 percent in the first quarter of 2012. The association said high unemployment and eroding incomes are causing the decline.
The clothing, footwear and food and beverage sectors were the worst hit, although Italians are also spending less on telecommunications, a sector that usually weathers the storm.
The decline in spending came as unemployment in Italy reached a 36-year high of 12 percent in April, according to figures released last week.
An estimated 656,000 young Italians are out of work as companies freeze hiring amid fear about the economy’s outlook.
Joblessness in the Eurozone will be the main focus when labour and economy ministers from Spain, France, Germany and Italy descend for a summit in Rome on June 14th.