As one of the biggest economies in Europe, Germany’s commerce has been watched closely throughout the pandemic. Though the country hasn’t been hit as badly as other nations in the EU, Germany’s overall growth is in decline. It’s expected that total retail sales will drop 8.2% this year from $897.97 billion (€801.98 billion) to $824.05 billion (€735.96 billion).

An eConsultancy survey shows that 65% of German brands expect to see a decline in sales and a partial or complete shutdown of businesses for the duration of the pandemic. Sixty percent also say financing is an issue, and 55% claim they are experiencing delivery problems.  

However, retail e-commerce is on the rise in Germany, and based on increases in March and April, sales are predicted to grow 16.2% YoY as consumers continue to shop more online.

A McKinsey study shows that while German consumer shopping behavior will decrease for some product categories, Germans do plan to buy online more groceries, household supplies, and personal care products, with home entertainment expected to rise the most. So far, Germans have increased digital activities by more than 50% for curbside pickup, videoconferencing, and remote school for children.

What will it take for consumers to return to in-store shopping? Thirty percent of Germans surveyed say that masks and protective barriers are the #1 condition they want in place before returning to brick-and-mortars, with increased sanitation (26%) and social distancing (17%) as the next two most important conditions.

Forrester research predicts that global retail will hit $2.1 trillion by the end of 2020, but that it will likely take at least four years to return to the pre-pandemic growth rates. However, recent rises in new COVID-19 cases could thwart in-store shopping. For example, an outbreak at a meat-processing plant in Verl, Germany has forced the state of North Rhine-Westphalia to go back under lockdown until June 30th.