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German Christmas Sales Falling Flat

German shoppers on the lookout for bargains, uncertainty about the amount of tax cuts in 2004 and price wars by competing businesses all mean one thing: poorer than expected performance in the retail sector this Christmas. In a survey carried out by the German Association of Independent Retailers following the third weekend in the pre-Christmas period, 56 percent of respondents said business was bad. Only 7.5 percent said their Christmas sales were good. The association’s president, Dorothea Störr-Ritter, said that smaller businesses are suffering the most. “Consumers are totally insecure, and retailers are feeling the effects. People simply don’t have any confidence in the future,” Störr-Ritter said. The competition for Christmas sales is so fierce that many stores have already marked down their goods. That’s something new, said the German head of clothing retailer C&A, Dominic Brenninkmeyer. “Our stores are fuller than in previous years, we’re selling more items, but we have less in our cash registers,” he told the Welt am Sonntag newspaper. “We’ve never experienced such strong price wars before Christmas.”