German retail sales pick up on brighter consumer mood | Business| Economy and finance news from a German perspective | DW | 01.03.2013
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German retail sales pick up on brighter consumer mood

Secure jobs and a general mood among Germans to spend rather than save their money have boosted retails sales in January. The surge comes as a sign that Germany has overcome economic contraction at the end of 2012.

In January, German retail sales rose by 3.1 percent from December, making up for a significant drop of 2.1 percent in the final month of 2012, the German Federal Statistics Office (Destatis) announced Friday.

Destatis figures also showed that January sales were 2.4 percent higher than in the same month a year ago.

Thanks to a robust German labor market, including rising wages, the sales figure was even higher than expected by economists, who had expected only a modest increase by 1 percent in a poll carried out by Dow Jones Newswires.

Business was booming notably in supermarkets and department stores where sales grew by 6.1 percent, Destatis data showed. In addition, so-called e-commerce done via the Internet and mail order companies was also up by 5.9 percent.

The strong retail figures follow rising consumer confidence in Germany, which caused the closely-watched GfK consumer index to tick upwards.

The forward-looking indicator showed a rise in consumer mood from 5.8 points in February to 5.9 points for March, with the GfK consumer research group saying the confidence may last if Germans were not going to be unsettled by the financial crisis worsening again.

"Under these conditions, it is very likely that consumption will continue to be a major pillar of the economy in 2013," GfK said in a statement.

uhe/kms (dpa, Reuters, AFP)