BERLIN (Reuters) - German consumer morale improved less than expected heading into June as shoppers remained cautious despite falling COVID-19 infections and an improving growth outlook for Europe's largest economy, a survey showed on Thursday.
The GfK institute said its consumer sentiment index, based on a survey of around 2,000 Germans, edged up to -7.0 from a revised -8.6 in the previous month.
The reading missed a Reuters forecast for a bigger rise to -5.2.
Consumers were more optimistic regarding their personal income situation as well as overall economic development, but their propensity to buy deteriorated after three consecutive monthly gains, the survey showed.
GfK consumer expert Rolf Buerkl said the drop in coronavirus cases and further progress with vaccinations were opening the door to more easing steps in the coming weeks.
"At the moment, this is mainly fueling economic optimism and creating a sense of new beginnings," Buerkl said, adding that options to spend money were still limited in many parts of the country despite first steps to take back restrictions.
Once all lockdown measures are lifted, househoulds are ready to splash out over the summer months as they put aside a lot of money during the pandemic, Buerkl said.
JUNE 2021 MAY 2021 JUNE 2020
Consumer climate -7.0 -8.6 -18.6
Consumer climate components MAY 2021 APR 2021 MAY 2020
- willingness to buy 10.0 17.3 5.5
- income expectations 19.5 9.3 -5.7
- business cycle expectations 41.1 7.3 -10.4
NOTE - The survey period was from May 6 to 17, 2021.
The consumer climate indicator forecasts the development of real private consumption in the following month.
An indicator reading above zero signals year-on-year growth in private consumption. A value below zero indicates a drop compared with the same period a year ago.
According to GfK, a one-point change in the indicator corresponds to a year-on-year change of 0.1% in private consumption.
The "willingness to buy" indicator represents the balance between positive and negative responses to the question: "Do you think now is a good time to buy major items?"
The income expectations sub-index reflects expectations about the development of household finances in the coming 12 months.
The additional business cycle expectations index reflects the assessment of those questioned of the general economic situation in the next 12 months.
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(Reporting by Michael Nienaber, Editing by Douglas Busvine)