28 Jul 2021, 13:50

Fresh virus fears dampen German consumer optimism

 BERLIN, July 28, 2021 (BSS/AFP) - German consumer confidence is set to stagnate in August, a key survey said Wednesday, as renewed concerns over the coronavirus pandemic put the brakes on early-summer optimism in Europe's biggest econom

Pollster GfK's forward-looking barometer remained at minus 0.3 points heading into August, flatlining at the same level as a month previously after a strong bounce in June.

"The period of falling infection rates is over, and case numbers are rising again," said GfK consumer expert Rolf Buerkl in a statement.

"The speed of the vaccination rollout has also slowed considerably, despite there being enough vaccines. This has prevented another significant jump in consumer mood," he added.

Infection rates have begun to rise gradually in Germany after remaining low for a number of weeks, with official figures showing a seven-day incidence rate of 14.5 cases per 100,000 people on Tuesday.

The increase in case numbers and the slowing vaccine rollout have caused concern in Germany, where restaurants, shops and cultural venues have been open since restrictions were eased in May.

On Sunday, Chancellor Angela Merkel's chief of staff mooted possible further restrictions on public life for the unvaccinated, even if they test negative.

With new restrictions looming on the horizon, GfK's survey of some 2,000 respondents found that shoppers were a little less upbeat about the German economy than last month.

Income expectations also dropped slightly amid concerns over inflation, which has risen to above two percent, the GfK said.

The pollsters added that consumers were moderately more likely to splash out on big purchases, despite requirements such as mask-wearing, which "prevent full enjoyment of the shopping experience".

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