Discover Germany | Culture | Barbara Geier
How Germans solve the Christmas presents dilemma TEXT & PHOTO: BARBARA GEIER
Presents all sorted yet? Or still wracking your brain what to get the husband, wife, children, mum, dad, friends and the ones you really don’t want to get something for but feel – for whatever reason – that you’re still very much obliged to? Well, just do it like the Germans. According to a new Ernst & Young survey, an increasing number are taking a short cut in 2016 (or are simply being super efficient as the world expects from us) and resort to getting vouchers. Not very imaginative, but there is a very understandable reason for this number rising. The older generation in particular is at a loss more and more each year as to what to get for their grandchildren. Fashion is not that fashionable anymore; all kinds of electronical gadgets and lifestyle items are desired instead. However, grandparents are not at home in the digital world and they simply don’t know what will cut it with the kids or lead to disappointed faces. Thus, confusion and desperation leads to “let’s simply get a voucher for them to buy whatever they like”. As long as there’s peace on Christmas Eve, which is in Germany the day when presents are unwrapped under the Christmas tree, all is well. In general, Germans are planning to spend even more for Christmas 2016 as they do anyway, with the abovementioned study expecting 18 billion euros. The average spend for vouchers, the most popular present category of all thanks to Opa (Grandpa) and Oma (Grandma), is 122 | Issue 45 | December 2016
rising as well with Germans allocating a budget of 68 euros per gift voucher, which is 50 per cent more than last year. Books are, still, at number two on the list of the types of presents most frequently bought, followed by food or sweets, clothes and toys. If you get a voucher, you’re definitely better off because only 16 euros are pencilled in the Christmas pressies budget for food or sweets and 23 euros for clothes and toys respectively. By the way, the 18 billion spent one way or the other translate into 266 euros to be spent per person on average, a rise of three per cent in comparison to last year. So, are Germans getting richer? Or ever more generous? Well, the Ernst & Young consumer experts have the following explanation: cost for heating and petrol has gone down in Germany; couple that with rising salaries and the fact that saving money doesn’t really pay anymore because of super low interest rates and you have happy retailers wanting to spend more on Christmas presents. Speaking of which, it’s mainly good ol’ brick and mortar retail that will benefit because Germans still like proper Christmas shopping in comparison to simply clicking on a basket online: 71 per cent say that they’ll browse the shops in their respective city centres, probably because it’s part of the Christmas experience. So, not always that efficient and practical after all; buying everyday items online is all well and good but for special occasions,
the ‘sentimental’ German side comes through. The shopping experience, atmosphere, being able to see what you get in reality and expert face-to-face advice count. Well, however you’re planning to go about the yearly Christmas present buying project and however much you’re planning to spend, try not to get too stressed about it. If everything else fails, take advice from the ‘oldies’ and get a voucher …. Frohe Weihnachten, one and all! Barbara Geier is a London-based freelance writer, translator and communications consultant. She is also the face behind www.germanyiswunderbar.com, a German travel and tourism guide and blog that was set up together with UK travel writer Andrew Eames in 2010.
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