German retail sales, a closely watched measure of household confidence, surged in January
Frankfurt - AFP
German retail sales, a closely watched measure of household confidence, surged in January, official data showed on Tuesday, suggesting that consumer spending will remain the main growth driver in Europe's biggest economy this year, analysts said.
Retailers' sales climbed by 2.9 percent in January compared with December, the federal statistics office Destatis said in a statement.
The previous month, retail sales increased by 0.6 percent.
On a 12-month basis, business improved even more, jumping by 5.3 percent in January compared with the same month last year, the statisticians calculated.
That was the biggest increase since June 2010, they said.
While retail sales data are frequently revised, analysts said the data augured well for overall growth of the German economy this year.
"Cheap oil, healthy income gains, low interest rates and fading risks combined for a very strong start to the year for German retailers," said Berenberg Bank economist Christian Schulz.
"As rising confidence combines with rising real incomes and little incentive to save, German households are finally ready to relax the purse strings. Private consumption looks set to be a major growth driver in 2015," the expert said.
Schulz conceded that the pace of growth was unlikely to remain at the current heady levels.
"But the fundamentals for consumption are very solid," he argued, pointing to nominal wage gains, low inflation and a resilient labour market.
Natixis economist Johannes Gareis said the strong retail sales data "reflected the buoyant mood among Germany's consumers."
Last week, the GfK consumer sentiment index hit its highest level since October 2001.
"German retail sales are notoriously volatile and monthly numbers should be considered with caution. Still, the fundamental outlook for German consumers is sunny and we expect the upward trend in consumer spending to continue in the course of 2015," Gareis said.
"All in all, we expect consumption to remain an important pillar of Germany’s growth in 2015," he added.