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REVEALED: The everyday products getting less expensive in Germany

Inflation rates are soaring in Germany - but the jump in prices hasn't affected all consumer goods. Here are a few of the thing that have actually become cheaper in recent months.

Ice cream shop Bielefeld
A server makes a three-scoop ice cream cone in Bielefeld, North Rhine-Westphalia. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Friso Gentsch

The cost of living is rising at an alarming pace. In April, the inflation rate in Germany hit a stunning 7.4 percent – the highest it’s been in more than 40 years.

In real terms, that means that many people will be getting poorer year by year, unless they’re lucky enough to have got a stellar pay rise at work. 

When you dig down into the nitty gritty of the price rises though, the cost hikes are quite unevenly spread across different goods and services. 

The Local has reported regularly on the dizzying rise in the cost of fuel and energy, as well as the food items – like milk and fresh meat – that are getting more expensive by the week.

READ ALSO: What to know about the latest price hikes in German supermarkets

In April, energy prices rose by 35.3 percent, while prices for heating oil almost doubled. Consumers also had to pay significantly more for fuel (38.5 per cent) and natural gas (47.5 per cent).

Meanwhile, the weekly grocery shop has also gone up in price, with food costs on average 8.6 percent more expensive than in April last year. Edible fats and oils (27.3 percent) and meat products (11.8 percent) were the items that went up most steeply. 

But not everything is going up in price so dramatically, and some everyday items have even got cheaper over the past few years.

Here’s what consumers in Germany are saving money on today compared to last year.

Digital services and software

Some of the biggest drops in prices over the past year have been in the online and digital sectors, which is great news for anyone looking to pick up a new entertainment system or a new Wifi contract for their home. 

According to the Federal Office of Statistics (Destasis), computer operating systems and other types of software saw the biggest drop in price between April 2021 and April 2022. In fact, people purchasing a software subscription or operating system this spring are likely to have paid around 14.3 percent less than customers who purchased the same software last year.

Destatis also noted that Wifi and internet services have become cheaper in recent months. Since April 2021, the cost of “wireless telecommunications services” (otherwise known as Wifi) has decreased by 2.4 percent, while “access to online services has internet” is 0.8 percent cheaper.

Anyone’s who’s been saving up for a new TV, DVD players or satellite dish will also be pleased to discover that these products currently cost around one percent less than they did in April last year. 

Other electronic devices such as headphones, headsets, e-book readers and digital picture frames fell in price by 1.3 percent between March 2021 and March 2022. Renting videos or DVDs became 0.8 per cent cheaper over the same period.

READ ALSO: 

Wine and sweet treats

While it’s true that most of the weekly grocery shop has gone up in price, some surprising items are actually cheaper now than they were a year ago.

In fact, you can get a romantic dinner for two today for less than you could a year ago, since a plate of seafood is 1.6 percent cheaper and a bottle of wine is 0.8 percent cheaper. Home bakers can also enjoy things like puff pastry and baking mixes for less.

People with a sweet tooth seem to be the biggest winners this year: they can now enjoy a bar of chocolate for less, since the price of chocolate has dipped by three percent since last April, and also make savings of 2.3 percent on any artificial sweeteners they buy. 

Milk and white chocolate bars on display in Berlin.

Milk and white chocolate bars on display in Berlin. Photo: picture alliance/dpa/dpa-Zentralbild | Monika Skolimowska

The other treat that is getting cheaper is ice cream. Just in time for summer, the cost of your ice-cream sundae or Eiskugel in Waffel (ice cream in a cone) has dropped by one percent. 

OK, it may only be a few cents lower, but we still think it’s a good reason not to feel guilty about treating to yourself to an ice cream on a sunny day. 

READ ALSO: German consumers to be hit by further price hikes in supermarkets

Household appliances

Though many household expenses have gone up this year, a few common household goods are currently bucking the trend. 

For soup and smoothie addicts, a staple appliance has decreased in price over the past twelve months. In fact, buying an electric mixer, food processor or blender will set you back 2.8 percent less this year than in April 2021.

Prices for electric irons (-0.5 percent), hoovers (-0.8 percent) and “other large household appliances” (-1.2 percent), which includes water softeners, sewing machines and safes, have also gone down.

READ ALSO: The products getting more expensive and harder to find in Germany

Home and contents insurance

At a time when people have been spending more time at home due to Covid-19, the cost of home-related insurance has gone down.

According to Destasis, the price of “insurance services connected with the dwelling”, which means home and contents insurance, has gone down by around 1.8 percent year on year. 

Glasses and contact lenses

Glasses and contact lenses can be a big expense for anyone who needs them, so people with less-than-perfect eyesight will be pleased to know that the price of both of these has gone down slightly in the past year.

As of April 2022, the price of glasses and contact lenses has gone down by around 1.8 percent on average. 

Designers sunglasses at an auction house in Cologne

Designers sunglasses at an auction house in Cologne. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Oliver Berg

Clothes and shoes have also been trending downwards over the course of this year: back in February, women’s clothes were around 3.3 percent cheaper than they were in February 2021, while men’s clothes had dropped 0.7 percent in price.

Meanwhile, shoes would have set you back around 0.7 percent less on average, with women’s shoes once again showing the steepest decrease at minus 2.9 percent.

Children were the only demographic to buck this trend. In fact, children’s clothes had gone up in price by 1.6 percent in February and children’s shoes were up by 1.4 percent. 

READ ALSO: OPINION: Why Germany’s energy relief payouts are no fix for inadequate social security

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When are people in Germany retiring?

The retirement age in Germany has been rising for years. But last year, people retired a little earlier - and they received slightly higher pensions than those who became pensioners the previous year, according to a report.

When are people in Germany retiring?

Politicians and economists have been arguing that people in Germany will have to retire later in life due to the ageing society. But a new report showed German residents actually entered their retirement phase of life slightly earlier last year than the previous year. 

According to figures from the German Pension Insurance Fund, a total of 1.435 million employees retired in Germany in 2021.

On average, men retired at the age of 64.05, while in 2020 the retirement age for them was 64.07. Women retired at 64.18 – compared to 64.24 the previous year.

Despite the recent slight decline, there has been a different trend for a long time, reported German magazine Spiegel. The average time that people have been subject to pension insurance has increased by four years since the beginning of the noughties. In 2000, for instance, only 10 percent of 60-64 year-olds were subject to pension insurance, whereas recently it has climbed to more than 40 percent.

The fact that this is now changing, at least slightly, could have something to do with the increasing salaries of new pensioners. When it comes to old-age pensions, men received an average of €1,204 in 2021, compared to €1,171 net the previous year. Women got €856 in 2021 compared to €827 the year before. 

READ MORE: How does Germany’s pension system measure up worldwide?

For reduced earning-capacity pensions, men received an average of €956 (compared to €914 in 2020) net per month, and women received €882 (€851 in 2020).

The highest average pensions were received by people who retired with the deduction-free pension after 45 years of insurance (known as ‘Rente mit 63‘ or pension at 63 in Germany). For men, the average pension payment in this case after deduction of health and long-term care insurance contributions was €1,579 per month, and for women it was €1,235.

Figures show that older people in Germany – especially the highly qualified – are increasingly working to the retirement age – and even beyond. However, many baby boomers would rather get out sooner than later. Furthermore, the retirement age can’t be postponed in some cases such as physically demanding jobs.

When calculating state pensions in Germany, the number of years worked, your age, and average income determine what people receive. 

What is the current retirement age in Germany?

The age of retirement in Germany has been slowly increasing since the year 2012, when a government reform raised it from 65 to an eventual age of 67.

Currently, the age of retirement is being raised by a month each year. People who were born in the year 1956 and celebrated their 65th birthday last year will likely have to wait until they are 10 months past their 65th birthday before they can celebrate their retirement.

Starting in the year 2024, the age of retirement will be raised by two months every year until it hits a ceiling of 67. That means that people born in the year 1964 will have to wait until their 67th birthday before they can start to enjoy their next phase of life after working. 

Germany’s ruling coalition – made up of the Social Democrats (SPD), Greens and Free Democrats (FDP) – have not agreed on pushing up the retirement age, although they are examining the issue of how to keep the pensions system afloat.

READ ALSO: Pensions: How the new government plans to solve an old-age issue

Some experts in Germany say the retirement age will definitely have to be raised further because people are living longer and there won’t be enough workers paying for pensioners in future. 

The head of the German pension insurance, Gundula Roßbach, warned months ago that politicians would have to “keep a close eye” on the development.

READ ALSO: Could people in Germany soon be working until they are 68?

Vocabulary

Pensioners – (die) Rentner

Pensions/old-age pensions – (die) Altersrenten

Reduced in earning capacity pensions – (die) Erwerbsminderungsrenten

Pension insurance – (die) Rentenversicherung

We’re aiming to help our readers improve their German by translating vocabulary from some of our news stories. Did you find this article useful? Let us know.

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