The services sector recorded a decrease in its turnover of 5.8% in March compared to the same month in 2023, a rate 11.2 points lower than the previous month and its largest drop since February 2021, according to data released this Tuesday by the National Institute of Statistics (INE).

With the decline in March, the month in which Easter was celebrated, sales in the services sector put an end to two consecutive months of year-on-year increases.

Commerce reduced its sales by 9.6% in March, while other services invoiced 1.6% more than in the same month of 2023.

Within commerce, the wholesaler was the one that reduced its turnover the most, with a year-on-year decrease of 15.3%, followed by the sale and repair of vehicles and motorcycles (-2.7%). Retail trade, on the other hand, was the only one that increased its sales in March, with a year-on-year increase of 1.1%.

For its part, with regard to other services, the largest annual increases in turnover occurred in the hospitality industry (12.1%); administrative activities and auxiliary services (4.2%); information and communications (3.4%) and professional, scientific and technical activities (1.4%). On the other hand, sales decreased by 5.5% in transportation and storage and by 4.2% in real estate activities.

Within the hospitality industry, taking advantage of the momentum of Easter, accommodation services increased their turnover by 17.2% year-on-year in March, while food and beverage services increased their turnover by 10%.

Corrected for seasonal and calendar effects, service billing fell 0.5% in March in an interannual rate, 4.8 points below the growth recorded the previous month.

In monthly rate (March over February), sector sales, eliminating the seasonal and calendar effect, decreased by 2.9%, their largest monthly drop since April 2020, in the midst of the Covid pandemic. With this decline, service sales end a six-month streak of consecutive monthly increases.

In the first quarter of the year, the billing of the services sector registered an average increase of 0.5% (1.6% in the corrected series), highlighting the advances in accommodation services (15.4%), land transportation of passengers (13.1%) and transportation by taxi (12.5%).


Despite the decline in sales, employment created by the services sector rose 2.2% in March compared to the same month in 2023, a rate two tenths higher than that of the previous month. Employment in the sector has been growing uninterruptedly since April 2021.

Employment grew by 2.1% in commerce and 2.3% in other services in March. Within the latter, the greatest increase in employment was recorded in the hospitality industry (4.6%), followed by information and communications (2.1%); professional activities (1.9%); administrative activities (1.6%) and transportation and storage (1.4%). Real estate activities, on the other hand, reduced their occupancy by 1.4%.

For its part, within commerce, the retailer increased its workforce by 2.2% year-on-year in March, while the wholesaler increased its workforce by 2% and the sale and repair of vehicles by 2.1%.


Only three autonomous communities increased the turnover of the services sector in March compared to the same month in 2023: La Rioja (4.5%), the Balearic Islands (4%) and the Canary Islands (1%).

In the rest, decreases in turnover were recorded, especially in Aragón (-12.6%), Murcia (-9.8%), Galicia (-9.5%), the Basque Country (-8.9%) and Madrid (-8.2%).

Regarding employment, employed personnel increased in March in all regions. The greatest advances in employment in the services sector were recorded by the Balearic Islands (5.1%), Murcia (3.7%) and La Rioja, with employment growth of 3.1% compared to March 2023.