It’s slowly going uphill

GfK consumer climate study for April 2022
It’s slowly going uphill

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Consumer sentiment in Germany did not break further in May after the record low in the previous month. Both economic and income expectations have recorded moderate increases, while the propensity to buy is almost unchanged.

A rapid recovery in the consumer climate is currently not to be expected.
A rapid recovery in the consumer climate is currently not to be expected.

(Picture: Natalia – )

In April, consumer sentiment in Germany had reached a record low, in May the GfK consumer climate study shows slight upward trends.

“Although the consumer climate is improving slightly as a result, consumer sentiment is still at an absolute low point,” explains Rolf Bürkl, GfK consumer expert. “Despite further easing of corona-related restrictions, the war in Ukraine and, above all, high inflation are weighing heavily on consumer sentiment.“

According to the market researchers, a sustainable turnaround in consumer sentiment still depends on two essential factors: on the one hand, the conflict in Ukraine must be ended by successful peace negotiations and, on the other hand, inflation must be noticeably reduced. In the latter case, it will primarily depend on the European Central Bank to accompany this with an appropriate monetary policy.

Economic expectations

After two months of noticeable losses, economic expectations rose somewhat in May. With an increase of 7.1 points, the indicator currently has -9.3 points. Compared to the corresponding period of the previous year, however, this is a minus of a good 50 points.

Although economic expectations did not fall further in May, consumers still fear a recession. Supply chain problems and a lack of semiconductors are currently preventing a sustainable recovery of large parts of the German economy. Thus, the easing of corona-related restrictions will not be able to have their hoped-for positive effect on the economy for the time being.

Income expectations

After the income expectation fell in April to the lowest level in almost twenty years, it can currently recover somewhat. The indicator gains 7.6 points and climbs to -23.7 points. Compared to the previous year, the income sentiment still shows a considerable minus of more than 43 points.

Despite the improvement, the level remains extremely low. The main reason for the weak income prospects, in addition to the uncertainty caused by the war in Ukraine, is above all the high inflation, explains the GfK. Explosively increased energy and food prices are nibbling at the purchasing power of households and are currently preventing a better development of the income indicator.


The propensity to consume has hardly remained unchanged compared to the previous month. The Propensity to buy indicator loses only a minimal 0.5 point and currently has -11.1 points. Compared to the corresponding period of the previous year, this is a good 21 points less.

As a result of weak economic and income prospects, consumers’ propensity to consume also remains noticeably muted. High prices for energy and food ensure that correspondingly less money is available for other purchases.

Forecast for June

GfK forecasts a consumer climate of -26.0 points for June, which is 0.6 more than in May this year (revised -26.6 points).

Go to the study

The survey period for the current analysis was from 5 to 16 May 2022. The results are an excerpt from the study “GfK-Consumer climate MAXX” and are based on around 2,000 consumer interviews per month, which are carried out on behalf of the EU Commission. In this report, the indicators are graphically prepared, predicted and commented on. The consumer climate explicitly refers to total private consumer spending. However, depending on the definition, retail accounts for only about 30 percent of private consumer spending. The rest are services, travel, rent, health services, as well as the entire wellness area. Again, this is not about retail sales, but about the total consumer spending of consumers. The propensity to buy is – like all other indicators – a sentiment indicator. It asks whether consumers currently consider it advisable to make larger purchases. Even if you answer “yes” to this, there must still be two other requirements for a purchase: the consumer must have the necessary money for such a major acquisition and also see a need for this acquisition. In addition, these are actually only durable consumer goods, which also require a larger budget.


Consumer sentiment in Germany is suffering from the war in Ukraine.

The corona pandemic is dominating the mood of consumers in Germany.


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