Consumer climate improving slowly
GfK consumer climate survey in September 2003
German consumers are cautiously optimistic about the economic development and their personal future. While consumers had been more positive about general economic development for three months, in September they were more reserved again. The economic outlook indicator decreased slightly by 1.4 points for the first time since May 2003 and currently stands at -10.6.
In August, consumers were somewhat sceptical with regard to their income expectations. Their statements in September were altogether more hopeful: with a plus of a good 5 points, the economic expectations indicator more than compensated for the losses of the previous month. At its current level of -0.8, the indicator is very close to its long-term average value of 0 points. The optimism shown by consumers with respect to their income expectations has so far not extended to their propensity to buy. It is true that the indicator value was up by 1.6 points in September to -31.6. However, talk of a recovery would be premature, since the value is still at a low.
The latest consumer climate indicators show that the overall consumer climate indicator continues to stabilize, but there is still no evidence of any dynamic change. It is expected to reach 5.3 points for October this year, 0.3 points more than the revised value of the previous month. For as long as there are no identifiable, positive signs from either the economy or the labour market, which will bring about a fundamental economic upturn, we are unlikely to see any dynamic consumer climate trends. However, if the discussions regarding tax and social security reforms are resolved with clear, transparent statements for consumers, this will speed up recovery of the consumer climate.
Dr. Ulrike Schöneberg
Tel. +49 (0)911 395 2645