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German shoppers gloomy as virus mars holiday season

Published on November 26, 2020

German shoppers are heading into the annual holiday season feeling more downbeat about money and jobs, a key survey showed Thursday, as the country battles a second coronavirus wave.

The GfK institute’s forward-looking assessment of consumer confidence fell to minus 6.7 points for December, down from a slightly revised minus 3.2 in November.

Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government introduced new measures in November to halt a rapid rise in coronavirus infections, closing restaurants, hotels, sports and cultural centres.

“Only a noticeable decrease in infection numbers and a loosening of the restrictions will bring more optimism again,” GfK’s Rolf Buerkl said in a statement.

Merkel and the leaders of Germany’s 16 states agreed late Wednesday to extend the measures until December 20 at the least.

Although the shutdowns are milder than the lockdown imposed during the first coronavirus wave in the spring, the curbs have slammed the brakes on the economic recovery that started over the summer.

The GfK survey of some 2,000 people found that respondents were more pessimistic about Germany’s economic prospects as well as their own income expectations.

Fears are growing that businesses hardest hit by the latest shutdowns may not survive, fuelling concerns about job losses, the pollster said.

While respondents said they were less likely than last month to make large purchases, GfK noted that the overall tendency to spend as Christmas approaches remains at a “satisfactory” level.

Unlike in the spring, retailers have been allowed to stay open throughout the latest curbs.

Government officials have urged the public to do their gift shopping on weekdays to avoid stores getting too crowded.

mfp/bmm