As German COVID-19 cases surge, consumer confidence falls

BERLIN (AP) — German consumers are growing increasingly pessimistic amid growing fears of new lockdown measures in Europe’s largest economy as coronavirus numbers continue to rapidly climb, a survey showed yesterday.

The forward-looking GfK consumer climate index fell more strongly than predicted by economists to minus 3.1 points for November, from a value of minus 1.7 points in October.

The survey of some 2,000 consumers over the first two weeks of October showed about three-quarters of them believe the coronavirus poses a “major or very major threat” and about half are “concerned or very concerned” about their personal future, the Nuremberg-based agency said.

“The rapid increase in infection rates is leading to a tightening of restrictions brought on by the pandemic,” said GfK consumer expert Rolf Buerkl. “Fear of a second lockdown, should infections get out of control in the coming winter months, is also increasing.”

Germany’s number of new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 people over the past seven days has climbed past 50, according to the Robert Koch Institute, the country’s disease control centre.

The institute yesterday reported that it had recorded 11,287 new cases over the past 24 hours, the first time there have been more than 10,000 daily cases since the pandemic began, shattering the previous record figure of 7,830 daily infections set last Saturday.

The pandemic pushed Germany’s economy into a recession in the first quarter, and the drop in consumer confidence suggests that increasing private consumption may not continue to bring growth back around, said ING economist Carsten Brzeski.

“New uncertainty and new restrictions as well as local lockdowns have already started to dampen consumer confidence and the prospects for private consumption,” Brzeski said in a research note.

“Given that it very much looks as things will first get worse before they get better, both in terms of infections and restrictions, the risk of a double dip in Germany is also increasing.”