Findings of the GfK Consumer Climate study for Germany for May 2012
Nuremberg, May 25, 2012 – The mood among consumers in Germany was very stable in May. Consumers are considerably more optimistic than in the previous month and willingness to buy also increased slightly. Income expectations, however, dropped marginally. Following a revised value of 5.7 points in May, the overall indicator is also forecasting 5.7 points for June.
Despite recessionary trends in Europe and rising uncertainty as a consequence of the debt crisis, Germans feel that the national economy is continuing its upswing. General elections in France and Greece have so far not had a negative impact. This is proven by the marked rise in economic expectations this month. As a result, willingness to buy also increased moderately, especially as the concern about inflation has currently also reduced somewhat. Income expectations did not benefit from this and the outlook with regard to financial developments of private households in future has deteriorated marginally.
Economic expectations: upswing gathers pace
The economic outlook in Germany is continuing to brighten. The indicator improved by more than 11 points in May to 19.6 points, which is the third sizeable consecutive increase.
This proves that consumers consider the German economy to be on a clear growth path in early summer. In the eyes of consumers the economy has therefore completely recovered from the small slump in the last quarter of 2011. Despite the general trend towards recession in Europe, especially in the eurozone, Germans regard their economy as being on the up. Preliminary figures from the Federal Office of Statistics for the gross national product in the first quarter of the year verify this development. These show an unexpectedly strong increase in economic performance of 0.5% on the previous quarter. In addition to exports, increased private consumption was also a contributing factor to this improvement.
Consumers have seemingly not been affected by the recent mounting turbulence in the eurozone. Although the general elections in France and Greece caused further anxiety on the financial markets in particular, they do not appear to have dampened the economic mood, as confirmed by a separate evaluation of Consumer Climate interviews which were conducted before and after May 6, 2012. In contrast, the attitude of German business is notably less positive this month, as demonstrated by the decline in the ifo business climate index.
Income expectations: moderate decline but remain at high level
Income expectations did not benefit from the rising economic optimism in May. Following a moderate decline in the previous month, this indicator once again dropped slightly by one point in May 2012. At present, the indicator stands at 32 points and is therefore still at a very good level.
Despite the slight decline, consumers nonetheless anticipate that their income will rise more notably this year than in the past. Both the salary negotiations in the public sector that have been concluded and the pilot agreement for the metal and electrical industry in Baden-Württemberg point towards this development.
Inflation is and will remain a major factor causing uncertainty for purchasing power. At present, concern about inflation has diminished somewhat. However, recent debate may once again unsettle consumers as there is a real threat that inflation may at times lie well above the 2% mark in Germany too.
Willingness to buy: slight improvement
Even international turbulence is not having a negative impact on the shopping mood of German consumers. The indicator for willingness to buy to some extent recovered from its strong drop in the previous month, rising 4.4 points to a present level of 32 points. It is therefore almost matching the value in the same period of the prior year.
Alongside the pleasing economic mood, which has reduced concerns of unemployment, the slight reduction in inflation expectations is responsible for the positive development in the consumer mood. The steady rise in employment in Germany, in particular, is improving the planning security of consumers, which is a key factor for major purchases.
In addition, the ongoing uncertainty on the financial markets in combination with historically low interest rates means that consumers are more likely to make high value purchases rather than putting their money in the bank.