German consumer morale improves further but lockdown clouds outlook - GfK

    March 25 (Reuters) - German consumer morale improved for the
second month in a row heading into April, boosted by an easing
of lockdown measures at the beginning of March, a survey showed
on Thursday, though a recent decision to extend restrictions is
clouding the outlook.
    The GfK research institute said its consumer sentiment
index, based on a survey of around 2,000 Germans, rose to -6.2
points from a revised -12.7 in March.
    That was the best result since November, when a partial
lockdown to contain a second wave of infections began, and
clearly beat a Reuters forecast of -11.9.
    Income expectation jumped to 22.3 points compared to 6.5
points in the previous month. This was in line with a survey by
the Ifo institute and the Randstad employment services firm,
which showed that a majority of personnel directors at German
companies expected wages to rise in 2021.
    The survey took place from March 3 to March 15, which was
before Germany extended its lockdown until April 18 and a
temporary suspension of AstraZeneca COVID-19 shots
following reports of possible serious side-effects.
    The second lockdown, which was tightened in mid-December, is
forcing most shops and services to close. Restaurants, bars and
entertainment venues have been shut since early November.
    "Another hard lockdown will seriously damage the consumer
climate and the current improvement will remain a flash in the
pan," GfK researcher Rolf Buerkl said.
    A sustained recovery in consumer sentiment will continue to
be a long time coming, which means difficult times for retailers
and manufacturers, Buerkl said.
                                  APRIL      MARCH      APRIL
                                  2021       2021       2020
 Consumer climate                 -6.2       -12.7       2.3
 Consumer climate components      MARCH    FEB 2021     MARCH
                                  2021                  2020
 - willingness to buy             12.3        7.4       31.4
 - income expectations            22.3        6.5       27.8
 - business cycle expectations    17.7        8.0       -19.2
    NOTE - The survey period was from March 4 to 15, 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
    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
    The additional business cycle expectations index reflects
the assessment of those questioned of the general economic
situation in the next 12 months.

 (Reporting by Bartosz Dabrowski in Gdansk
Editing by Michael Nienaber)