Sales growth at Spain's Inditex SA , the world's largest clothing retailer and owner of popular Zara label, moderated in the third quarter as the euro zone debt crisis crimped spending in the region.

The company, founded by Spain's richest man Amancio Ortega, posted a 9.5 percent rise in sales growth on Wednesday for the third quarter ended October 31, compared with a more robust 12 percent rise in the first half.

The autumn-winter season is being significantly affected by the performance of sales during the Christmas period and end-of-season sales, due to the high volume of sales in that period, the company said in a statement, without providing further information.

Consumer confidence in the 27-nation European Union (EU) sunk to its lowest level this year in October as rising prices, muted wage growth and swingeing austerity measures squeezed disposable incomes in Europe, where Inditex makes almost three-quarters of sales.

So far in the crisis, Inditex has held up better than rivals at home in Spain and abroad, through taking market share in its domestic market, aggressively expanding into new markets like Asia and tightly controlling costs through its adaptable production model.

The group, whose brands also include upmarket Massimo Dutti, teen clothes label Bershka and underwear stores Oysho, posted nine-month sales of 9.71 billion euros (8.17 pounds), just below the 9.8 billion euro average in a Reuters poll of 10 banks and brokerages. Net profit of 1.30 billion euros compared with a 1.28 billion euro forecast.

The firm is due to hold a conference call at 8:00 a.m. (British time)

Inditex shares have dropped from a year's high of 69.4 euros set in October but have outperformed European stocks as a whole <.FTEU3> by some 14 percent though the last six months. They trade at 20.3 times forecast earnings for the current year, according to Reuters data.