People in Germany shopped significantly less in June than before. Adjusted for inflation, retail sales fell 8.8 percent compared to the same month last year. That’s the biggest drop in 28 years. As the Federal Statistical Office announced on Monday, sales fell by 1.6 percent in real terms compared to the previous month. With the cost of living rising, the trend is likely to continue. “Against this background, consumer restraint is to be expected in the next three months,” said the German Retail Association (HDE).
In nominal terms – i.e. in absolute figures and without taking inflation into account – sales fell by 0.8 percent compared to the previous year. This means that customers spent almost the same amount as in the previous year – but because of the high inflation rate of 7.6 percent in June they got less for their money.
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The retailers, on the other hand, have to cover their drastically increased costs with similarly high revenues as in the previous year. The difference between the nominal and real results reflects the high price increases in retail, the statisticians said.
Customer reluctance affects almost all sectors. With a price-adjusted minus of 10.1 percent compared to the previous year, the textile trade was hit particularly hard. It is true that the summer months in the fashion trade are traditionally low in sales. But Axel Augustin, spokesman for the Textile Shoes Leather Goods Trade Association, explained: “People are also holding back when buying clothing.” Two Corona winners are also feeling the bad mood. In the food trade, real sales in June were 7.2 percent below the previous year’s level. In online trading, income collapsed by as much as 15.1 percent.
A survey by the HDE underpins the crisis. The consumer climate index, which appears monthly and is based on a survey of 1,600 people, reached an all-time low in August, as the association announced on Monday. It has been said that people in Germany are currently more reluctant to make purchases and purchases than they have been for a long time. Weak consumer sentiment is also to be expected in the next three months. Just recently, a representative survey by the association showed that more than a quarter of the population (27 percent) is now very afraid of not getting by with the money.
The economic policy spokesman for the FDP parliamentary group, Reinhard Houben, wants to help retailers with political measures. “The stationary retail trade is helped in the short term by more Sunday shopping,” he told the Tagesspiegel. The increase in the cost of electricity and heat means that consumers not only postpone large private investments, but also save on their daily consumption. That is why politicians must bring further relief on the way. “It is up to the federal government to ensure that the citizens have more net income than the gross income and that their purchasing power does not fall despite inflation,” said Houben.
The Berlin-Brandenburg Trade Association (HBB) warned that the necessary recovery after the corona crisis could not materialise. “We are coming out of a crisis that has not been overcome,” said HBB spokesman Phillip Haverkamp. “We see the development with concern and also feel it in Berlin and Brandenburg.” Customers tried to save on basic supplies and food by switching to products from retail chains’ own brands.
But according to Haverkamp, the textile trade in particular is “under enormous pressure”. There would have been declines of up to 30 percent during the corona crisis. With a view to a new corona wave in autumn and new protective measures, the HBB is therefore calling for clear structures so as not to be surprised by further restrictions.