German retail and distribution giant Metro said Monday that sales were down in the three months to December, hit by the strong euro and weak Christmas sales. Metro, which runs its business year from October to September, said that first-quarter sales declined by 3.3 percent to 18.7 billion euros ($25.6 billion). The decline was "mainly due to negative currency effects in many parts of Eastern Europe and Asia," as well as the lost revenues from the recently divested Real supermarkets in Russia, Romania and Ukraine and the Media Markt chain in China, the statement said. "All in all, our new financial year got off to a solid start in spite of the still challenging economic backdrop," sad chief executive Olaf Koch. "Soft Christmas sales prevented a better development," he added.