German Consumerism

Learning to Live Large

Customers storming Mall of Berlin, the country's largest shopping center, at its opening day in September last year. Source: DPA
Customers storming Mall of Berlin, the country's largest shopping center, at its opening day in September last year.
  • Why it matters

    Why it matters

    If Germany’s consumer economy matures and expands, it could fuel above-averge economic growth and offset export downturns.

  • Facts

    Facts

    • Researcher GfK said German consumer confidence hit a 13-year high in February.
    • Unemployment reached a post-reunification record low in January, falling to 6.5 percent.
    • The average savings rate in Germany fell slightly to 9 percent of income in 2014.
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    Audio

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Ralf Derenthal has been in the business long enough to recognize a good deal when he sees one.

That is one reason why the asset manager is looking to buy an apartment in one of Berlin’s trendiest districts. “In 10 years, I can sell it tax-free and will benefit from a great increase in value,” he said in an interview.

Mr. Derenthal, who comes from a town near Düsseldorf and lives in Berlin, is one of many Germans who are looking to park their assets in real estate.

Germany tends to be a country of savers, low-risk takers and reluctant investors. But near zero interest rates are eating into savings at a time when a sound economy is boosting disposable incomes.

Many people, to prevent their savings from being eroded by inflation, are investing – more than before.

Consumer confidence measured by German market researcher GfK rose to a 13-year high in February. Germans are upbeat about their country’s chances and their personal economic futures. The last time optimism was this high was in 2001, shortly before the dot.com company boom imploded.

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