BERLIN — German retail sales rose much more than expected in August, data showed on Wednesday, raising hopes that household spending in Europe’s largest economy will power a strong recovery in the third quarter from the coronavirus shock.
Chancellor Angela Merkel and Finance Minister Olaf Scholz have since March unleashed an unprecedented array of rescue and stimulus measures to help companies and consumers recover as quickly as possible from Germany’s deepest recession on record.
The measures include unlimited liquidity aid for struggling companies, a massive job protection scheme to shield workers from sudden unemployment as well as cash handouts for parents and a temporary VAT cut to boost domestic demand.
There had been some doubt whether the VAT cut, valid from July 1 to Dec. 31, was actually working, as some companies seemed not to be passing the reduction on to consumers.
But figures released by the Federal Statistics Office showed that retail sales jumped by 3.1% on the month in real terms in August after an upwardly revised drop of 0.2% in July.
A Reuters forecast had predicted a smaller increase of only 0.5%.
Demand was particularly strong for furnishings and household appliances with a 8% increase. Online retailers continued to benefit from shifting consumer habits with a 23% jump in sales.