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CHRISTMAS

Last minute shoppers give high street boost

The German retail industry received a much needed last minute boost this year, as panicking present-hunters logged off from the Internet and flocked to the shops in the week before Christmas.

Last minute shoppers give high street boost
Photo: DPA

Despite being too early for exact figures, the German Retail Federation (HDE) said on Monday that otherwise dwindling sales had picked up at the last minute, Der Spiegel news magazine reported.

In Berlin, perfume was a popular buy among desperate men rushing to find something for their loved ones while “under massive pressure,” said spokesman from the HDE Günter Päts. He added that when men were shopping last minute, money tended not to be a factor.

Shops in south western states had suffered badly during December as rainy weather deterred people from heading into town and seemed to push them onto the internet, where Christmas shopping turnover rose by 27.3 percent to €5.6 billion.

Shops in Hesse, central Germany, boomed though – its residents spent on average €256 on presents each. This was, the HDE said, way above the national average of €230.

Experts from the HDE have estimated a turnover of €80.4 billion from the festive season, which is an increase of just 1.5 percent on last year – lower than the rate of inflation.

But this could pick up as the Christmas shopping season technically stretches until New Year’s Eve, said Päts. This short span of time was vital for the industry as it was then that Germans headed out to spend gift money and vouchers.

The Local/jcw

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MUNICH

Four injured as WWII bomb explodes near Munich train station

Four people were injured, one of them seriously, when a World War II bomb exploded at a building site near Munich's main train station on Wednesday, emergency services said.

Smoke rises after the WWII bomb exploded on a building site in Munich.
Smoke rises after the WWII bomb exploded on a building site in Munich. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Privat

Construction workers had been drilling into the ground when the bomb exploded, a spokesman for the fire department said in a statement.

The blast was heard several kilometres away and scattered debris hundreds of metres, according to local media reports.

Images showed a plume of smoke rising directly next to the train tracks.

Bavaria interior minister Joachim Herrmann told Bild that the whole area was being searched.

Deutsche Bahn suspended its services on the affected lines in the afternoon.

Although trains started up again from 3pm, the rail operator said there would still be delays and cancellations to long-distance and local travel in the Munich area until evening. 

According to the fire service, the explosion happened near a bridge that must be passed by all trains travelling to or from the station.

The exact cause of the explosion is unclear, police said. So far, there are no indications of a criminal act.

WWII bombs are common in Germany

Some 75 years after the war, Germany remains littered with unexploded ordnance, often uncovered during construction work.

READ ALSO: What you need to know about WWII bomb disposals in Germany

However, most bombs are defused by experts before they explode.

Last year, seven World War II bombs were found on the future location of Tesla’s first European factory, just outside Berlin.

Sizeable bombs were also defused in Cologne and Dortmund last year.

In 2017, the discovery of a 1.4-tonne bomb in Frankfurt prompted the evacuation of 65,000 people — the largest such operation since the end of the war in Europe in 1945.

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