Munich: Retailers have mixed results for the Christmas business – Munich

It’s difficult to get to spending money on this Saturday afternoon because there’s a dense crowd of mulled wine around Marienplatz and in the pedestrian zone. At Elly Seidl on Maffeistrasse, the queue of people waiting for chocolates extends to the arcades. Nearby, a brass group plays contemplative tunes, but has to be careful not to get carried away by the stream of passers-by.

So all is well with the Christmas business? Not quite, says Bernd Ohlmann, spokesman for the retail association: “The Christmas trees don’t grow to the sky for Munich retailers.” Sales of 2.1 billion euros are forecast for November and December in Munich, a fifth of annual sales – but that is only a slight increase in nominal terms, but not if you take inflation, higher energy prices and other increased expenses into account. Then it comes down to a minus. And: The total of 2.1 billion euros already includes 380 million euros that Munich residents spend in online retail.

In addition, according to Ohlmann, retailers are scoring their own goal if they declare “Black Friday” with enormous discounts and special offers a week before the 1st of Advent, on November 24th. However, he doesn’t see the situation as completely hopeless, because experience also shows that people buy their gifts later and later, so there is still hope for the last week of Advent.

On Saturday it looked as if all the people of Munich had suddenly gathered in the pedestrian zone for a show and were determined to find it all very contemplative. The parking garage at Oberpollinger is packed, and the one on the Altstadtring is also full. People stand close together at the Eiszauber on Marienplatz, as well as at the new H&M on Kaufingerstrasse. In the cosmetics department of the Kaufhof on Marienplatz, young women try out the colors of the season while male teenagers test how much deodorant is necessary for a serious overdose.

Wolfgang Fischer, managing director of the “City Partner” advertising group, does not see the situation as negatively as his colleague from the retail association. On Saturday, according to Fischer, 186,000 passers-by were counted on Kaufingerstrasse throughout the day, which was only 1,000 fewer than on the third Saturday in Advent 2019.

The business of Munich retailers has not been running optimally so far.

(Photo: Florian Peljak)

Fischer blames other factors for the fact that business overall is weaker than last year: especially the snow that fell on the city on December 2nd, the first Saturday in Advent. He calls the fact that it took almost a week for public transport to get going again “a catastrophe” – not just for customers, but also for the shops and their employees. Fischer knows of companies that paid their employees parking garage fees if they didn’t get to work by train or S-Bahn.

And when everything was running more or less smoothly again – the train drivers also went on strike. This was particularly fatal for the retail trade, because this December 8th is a public holiday in Austria, the Virgin Mary’s Conception, on which experience has shown that “the whole of Innsbruck and the whole of Salzburg” (Fischer) goes to Munich to shop. And then Advent 2023 is also the shortest possible because Christmas Eve is also the fourth Advent – last year business ran a full week longer.

However, the snowfall also had positive aspects. “Winter shoes, down jackets, hats and gloves were ripped out of the sellers’ hands,” says Fischer. Overall, there is still room for improvement, and expectations were more hopeful before the start of the Christmas business. Looking at the overcrowded streets on Saturday, Fischer also sees a turnaround in the trend towards online trading: “Munich city center is in vogue again.”

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