With Christmas drawing near, more and more Germans streamed into shopping centers to buy gifts for their beloved ones.
It's only five days away from Christmas. Matthias, who comes from Southern German city Augsburg, is looking for gifts for his parents. "I want to buy my father a gift coupon of his favorite whisky store, but I haven't figured out what to buy for my mom."
German Retail Federation (HDE) expects the coming Saturday to be the strongest day for this year's Christmas business.
"The customers flocked into the city centers and shopping centers in search of gifts, which gives us hope for a strong final sprint in the coming days," said Stefan Genth, Chief Executive of HDE.
In the bookstore Thalia on the Alexanderplatz in the center of Berlin, the sheer burgeoning mass of people and the long queue in front of the cashier desk hits the eye.
Bookstore clerk Beck said that since the end of November, the store became more and more crowded. "Especially on Fridays and Saturdays, when the store is packed with customers, people have to wait in a long queue to pay."
According to the survey of German Market research institute GfK, the top three Christmas gifts that Germans mostly love to buy are books, toys and clothing.
In addition, sending cash gifts or coupon gifts are popular in Germany, because that can give family members and friends more convenience as to what and when to buy.
A recent survey of HDE also shows that retailers of watches, jewelery and housewares are particularly satisfied during this year's Christmas business. Bags, shirts, musical instruments and wine are also among best-selling products.
Meanwhile, the role of pre-Christmas online shopping is becoming increasingly important. HDE expects a year-on-year sales increase of 15 percent on the Internet between November and December. Online purchase ratio before Christmas is overproportionally high.
"Shopping before Christmas in store is exceptionally hard. Instead, online shopping can save me time and also reduce shopping stress," said Daniel, an economics student from Bochum University. To avoid shopping in a crowded mall, he already bought this year's Christmas gifts online.
All in all, HDE forecasts Germany's total retail sales during the Christmas shopping season to reach 80 billion euros (109 billion U.S. dollars), an increase of 1.2 percent year-on-year.
Online transactions are expected to reach 8.5 billion euros. Meanwhile, a recent poll of Gfk shows that the Germans will spend an average of 288 euros to buy Christmas gifts this year, about one percent increase over the previous year. (1 U.S. dollar = 0.73 euro)