Retail sales rose by 3.7% in real terms from a year ago, after an upwardly revised increase of 5.0% the previous month.
Compared with February, the month before the COVID-19 outbreak in Germany, retail sales in August were 5.8% higher, suggesting the sector has already put the crisis behind it.
Demand was particularly strong for furnishings and household appliances with year-on-year increase of 8%.
Online retailers continued to benefit from shifting consumer habits with a 23% jump in sales, which came at the expense of clothing and shoe stores which suffered a 10% drop.
Business associations have warned that the pandemic is accelerating a structural transformation in retailing as consumers move online and away from small stores in cities.
“Politicians urgently need to take countermeasures at all levels, otherwise we will see that large areas of our city centers will turn into ghost towns,” said Stefan Genth from the HDE retail association.
HDE said last week it expected nominal sales to grow by 1.5% this year despite the pandemic, a sharp upward revision from its previous estimate of a 4% drop. It pointed to booming online sales and the government’s stimulus measures.
In a further good sign for household spending, unemployment fell for the third month in a row in September, separate labor office data showed.
The number of people out of work fell by 8,000 in seasonally adjusted terms to 2.907 million and the unemployment rate eased to 6.3% from 6.4% in the previous month.