Consumers in germany remain in a mood for consumption, even if the mood is dampening somewhat. In its monthly consumer climate index, the nurnberg-based market researcher gfk forecasts a decline of 0.1 points to 9.6 payers for january.
In the previous month, the value had risen by 0.1 payer. In addition to uncertainties caused by trade conflicts, the company cited the discussion about negative interest rates for private investors as a particular reason. “When money has to be paid for investments, this also affects the consumer’s purse strings. They are afraid that punitive interest rates will now be introduced across the board for private customers,” said gfk consumer expert rolf burkl in nurnberg.
The debate about negative interest rates has printed the propensity to save to a new all-time low of minus 74 points. Burkl said that the interest rate debate has also had an impact on income expectations. At 35.0 points, the last time this value was this low was over six years ago. Fear of interest penalties is making consumers insecure in their assessment of their own financial situation.
The prime rate in the euro zone has long been at a record low of zero percent. If commercial banks park money with the european central bank, they will have to pay a penalty interest rate of 0.5 percent. The consequences: interest rates on savings accounts and overnight money have virtually been abolished. In addition, more and more banks are charging negative interest rates on larger balances, sometimes even from the first euro for new customers.
Consumers are also more pessimistic about the economic outlook than in december, according to the gfk. European central bank’s low interest rate policy should stimulate corporate investment, expert says. “This is not happening to the extent hoped for because of the general uncertainty caused by the weakening global economy.”The trade conflicts between the USA and china and between the USA and the EU have made export-oriented companies in particular more cautious about investing. In the automotive industry and its suppliers, there is also the transition to electromobility and, as a result, fears for jobs.
On the other hand, consumers’ propensity to buy has continued to improve, burkl explained. According to the gfk, this value increased by 2.2 payers and, at currently 52.2 points, again reached the good level of the previous year. “In an increasingly stormy economic environment, the propensity to buy is proving to be a rock at the end of the year as well. This is good news for retailers.”
Looking ahead over the year, the consumer climate for 2019 is trending slightly negative, but consumers have not yet lost their enthusiasm for buying. The decisive factor for 2020 will be whether the employment situation remains stable. “Then consumption will also be a good pillar of the economy next year,” said burkl.