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German retailers expect growth this year despite coronavirus crisis

FILE PHOTO: People walk next to Alexa shopping mall at Alexanderplatz in Berlin, Germany February 4, 2016. REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch/File Photo

BERLIN (Reuters) - Germany’s HDE retail association said on Tuesday it expected nominal sales to grow by 1.5% this year despite the coronavirus pandemic, a sharp upward revision from its previous estimate for a 4% drop.

The HDE association pointed to booming online sales and the government’s stimulus measures, such as a temporary VAT cut and cash handouts for parents, which it said were boosting private consumption and supporting the retail sector as a whole.

Still, it called on Berlin to help small retailers in urban areas as they were being hit especially hard by the crisis.

“The coronavirus crisis is accelerating the structural transformation in retailing,” HDE said, adding that consumers were changing their shopping habits to the benefit of online retailers and to the disadvantage of small stores in cities.

Adjusted for price effects, HDE expects retail sales to remain stable in 2020 year-on-year.

The forecasts are based on the assumption that a second wave of coronavirus infections and another round of lockdown measures can be avoided in the second half of the year.

Reporting by Michael Nienaber; Editing by Michelle Adair

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