Consumer uncertainty continues / Findings of the GfK consumer climate survey in March 2004

Nuremberg, Germany (ots) - The ray of hope which shone through in February's survey of the consumer climate in Germany has already dissipated. In February, Germans were full of hope with regard to the economic outlook, but by March their optimism had already evaporated. The development with regard to income expectations was similar. Nevertheless, the willingness to make larger purchases in the near future remained much the same as in the previous month, at a level, however, which is significantly below what has been the average for many years. The overall consumer climate indicator is continuing its sideways trend, which started several months ago.

For the first time in four months the consumer mood is again reflecting the forecasts of financial analysts (ZEW economic outlook) and companies (ifo business climate). Both agree that from a current perspective the economic outlook for Germany is not particularly good. All three surveys highlight the fact that despite the trend in basic economic indicators being hopeful, the mood among consumers is depressed and there is widespread doubt about any sustainable upturn in the economy.

Overall, the consumer mood is not showing any signs of real improvement. It currently does not look like there will be any fundamental change in the situation over the coming months. The reasons are the above-mentioned uncertainty both with regard to the macroeconomic picture and the situation of private individuals as well as the continued weakness in the labour market. In addition, the debate regarding the restructuring of the Bundesagentur für Arbeit (Federal Agency for Labour) and initial reports about associated difficulties are doing nothing to convince consumers of the possibility of an imminent improvement in the employment policy.