German consumers remain in the mood to spend – for now

Consumers in Germany remain in a spending mood, but there may be trouble ahead, according to researchers.

The monthly consumer climate index from GfK market research forecasts a decline of 0.1 points to 9.6 points for January. The value rose by 0.1 points in the previous month.

“In an increasingly stormy economic environment, the propensity to buy is proving to be a steadying influence at the end of the year. This is good news for retailers,” said Rolf Buerkl, and expert from GfK.

However they are clouds on the horizon. The company says uncertainty caused by international trade conflicts, and speculation about negative interest rates for private investors are having a sobering effect. Negative interest would mean savers have to pay money to banks, rather than receiving payments.

“That will effect consumers’ wallets,” Buerkl said. “People are afraid that penalty interest rates for private clients will now be introduced across the board.”

The debate about negative interest rates has pushed the propensity to save to a new all-time low of minus 74 points. The interest rate debate has also impacted on income expectations, which now stand at a six-year low at 35.0 points.

The decisive factor for 2020 will be whether the employment situation remains stable. “Then consumption will be a good support for the economy next year as well”, said Buerkl.

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