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Economy in Brief

German Retail Sales Jump to Get Back to Zero
by Robert Brusca   December 01, 2010

German retail sales fell in August plummeted in September then ratcheted higher in October leaving the growth of retail sales at zero over three months. Over six months and 12-months the rate is the same at just below a pace of 4%. In real terms retail sales growth is up by 2.7% Yr/Yr and at a slightly accelerated 4.4% pace over six-months; but sales is still are flat over three-months.

It’s hard to argue that the German consumer is coming to the rescue of stagnant demand in the Eurozone, although the EU Commission sort of paints that picture in its survey. In ‘real life’ German retail sales are simply not very robust despite German unemployment being at its lowest in 18 years.

The ongoing troubles in the Euro-zone are backstopped by German finances but are not being ‘front stopped,’ or averted, by rising German demand. In the EU framework German consumer confidence is at its highest since 1990 and no other large EMU nation has its current confidence level above the 50th percentile of its respective range over that period. Retail confidence in Germany is in its 86th percentile much like in the UK with most other large EMU countries much weaker.

But the proof of the pudding is in the buying of it. And as much as consumers say good things about how they feel or well the retail sector is doing it is just not in the numbers yet. Surveys of German retailers in this Christmas season are beginning to be more upbeat. Maybe the consumer numbers will snap up to a higher level in the holiday season. For now, however, we have good responses from consumers taking surveys but they remain consumers whose actions belie their optimistic responses. Time will tell if the German consumer is a work in progress or just a mirage.

German Real and Nominal Retail Sales
Nominal Oct10 Sep10 Aug10 3Mo 6Mo 12Mo YrAgo Qtr SAAR
Retail Ex Auto 2.3% -1.8% -0.5% 0.0% 3.8% 3.7% -2.6% -3.3%
MV and Parts 2.3% -1.8% -0.4% 0.0% 4.4% 2.7% -1.8% -3.5%
Food Bev & Tobacco 4.3% -3.2% -2.6% -6.9% 6.0% 2.7% -4.3% -9.6%
Clothing Footwear 4.0% -1.3% 1.5% 17.6% 19.0% 3.2% 7.6% 6.5%
Car Registrations (units) 6.6% 7.5% -3.5% 49.0% 29.5% -17.2% 30.6% 0.0%
 Retail Ex auto 2.3% -1.8% -0.4% 0.0% 4.4% 2.7% -1.8% -3.5%
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