Germans learn to spend, spend, spend

Consumers are splashing out more than ever in Germany with spending reaching a new high of €1.6 trillion in 2013, a 2.5 percent boost on the previous year and almost a third more than in 2000.

Germans learn to spend, spend, spend
2013 was a record year for spending in Germany. Photo: DPA

Figures released on Tuesday by the Federal Statistics Office (Destatis) said the increase matched a long-term trend of growing spending in the country, whose consumers are frequently criticized for holding back economic growth by being too thrifty.

Nearly a quarter of private households' money went on accommodation costs and utilities, the report said, with 13.4 percent spent on transport and 12 percent on food and soft drinks.

Adjusted for changing prices, the overall increase in spending was 0.9 percent compared to last year and up 9.1 percent on 2000.

The spending spree was largely due to low interest rates discouraging Germans from saving or investing their cash.

As well as looser purse-strings, low interest rates also led to more use of credit cards last year.

A survey by the Society for Consumer Research (GfK) last October found 33 percent of households were using credit to finance large purchases, four percent more than in 2012.

And a survey by insurers Ernst and Young in November found Germans were on average planning to spend €273 on their Christmas presents that year, a 19 percent boost on 2012.

The continuing upward trend in private spending puts Germany ahead of most other EU member states.

In 2012, overall price-adjusted spending in Germany went up 0.8 percent on the previous year, while the EU average figure dropped by 0.7 percent.

In the same period, spending in economically troubled Portugal and Greece dropped by four percent and 8.2 percent respectively.

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