Positive Signals Emerge at Last from German Economy

17 December 2001

Following months of gloom, German retailers are reporting bullish results just three weeks into the Christmas retailing season.

“Christmas sales are very positive,” said Hermann Franzen, president of the retail industry federation HDE, while developments in December had been “extraordinary”, according to Wolfgang Kraus, chairman of department store group Kaufhof Warenhaus.

According to a national survey of retailers carried out by the HDE, one in two retailers reported a year-on-year increase in sales for the third Advent week. The trend was confirmed by Peter Gerard, chairman of Karstadt Quelle, Europe's largest department-store group, whose mail order units Quelle and Neckermann have lifted sales by around 3% year-on-year.

Christmas volume represents between 20%–50% of retailers’ annual sales, depending on the sector; and economics minister Werner Müller already detects signs of a turnaround. In principle, sentiment tended to be worse than the fundamentals, Müller opined. But in the case of retail consumers, this trend looked set to be reversed.

News source: Handelsblatt (Germany)