Lower sales in retail: Buying mood decreased in September

Status: 01.11.2021 2:43 p.m.

Consumption has recently supported the growth of the German economy. But at the end of the summer, retailers’ sales fell. One business in particular suffered particularly badly.

The buying mood of the Germans decreased significantly in September. At the end of the summer quarter, retailer revenues fell nominally by 2.3 percent compared to August, according to the Federal Statistical Office. If you exclude rising prices, there was a real minus of 2.5 percent. Economists had expected 0.6 percent growth.

Business with textiles, clothing, shoes and leather goods fell particularly sharply: Here sales fell by almost ten percent. Even the Internet and mail order business, which has been booming since the Corona crisis, reported a decline of 2.0 percent. However, at a good 27 percent, sales in this division are still well above the level of February 2020, when the virus pandemic broke out in Germany and caused restrictions.

Hope for the Christmas season

There was initially no explanation for the surprising decline. Surveys had recently shown that the global supply problems of important intermediate products in the industry have now also reached the retail sector. In addition to the supply bottlenecks, according to experts, the increased prices, especially for oil and gas, could have induced consumers to spend less on other products. The general propensity to save is also still very high due to the ongoing pandemic.

Now the retailers are turning their eyes to the important Christmas business and are hoping that consumers will be more willing to buy. As can be seen from the current consumption barometer of the trade association HDE, the index interrupted its three-month downward trend in November and rose again to the previous year’s level.

Mood only slightly brightened

“Especially compared to the previous year, the willingness to spend on consumer goods is somewhat greater,” states the association. The reason is the slight increase in income. At the same time, the propensity to save has also increased. However, GfK market researchers recently found that consumers – despite the highest German inflation since the end of 1993 – go into November with a brighter buying mood. The last two months of the year are extremely important for many retailers as the holiday season.

Meanwhile, Alexander Krüger, chief economist at Bankhaus Lampe, urges caution. “A good consumer mood is not a reliable signal for loose-fitting purses,” say the economist. “If shop shelves are emptier because the logistics are sick, consumer wishes can be realized less naturally.”

In Germany, the gross domestic product grew by 1.8 percent in the third quarter – which means that the Federal Republic is 0.4 percentage points behind the growth of the entire euro zone. It is also the third quarter in a row that Germany has performed weaker than the other countries in the monetary union.


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