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How the cost of living crisis is affecting people in Germany

Energy and some supermarket items in Germany are rising in price much faster than the overall inflation rate - and that has more than half of German households worried about their budgets, a new survey shows.

A supermarket trolley full of groceries. The prices of everyday items have gone up considerable in Germany in recent months.
A supermarket trolley full of groceries. The prices of everyday items have gone up considerable in Germany in recent months. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Fabian Sommer

What’s happening?

With the cost of everyday items spiralling upwards, many people in Germany are feeling the strain. And a new survey has laid bare the impact on people.

Around 57 percent of people in Germany say rising prices are a “big problem” for them personally, according to a recent poll.

That’s a marked increase from July, when public broadcaster ZDF asked the same question and found that only 40 percent of respondents were concerned about rising costs at that time.

In some cases, energy prices have more than doubled.

The price of natural gas – which around half of German households use for heat – has quintupled in some cases.

READ ALSO: German households see record hikes in heating costs

What else is going up in price?

It’s not just the price of energy that’s rising steeply. Anyone who has gone to buy groceries in the past months will have noticed a major increase.

One analysis from Focus news magazine found that the price of several common supermarket items had rocketed upwards once more, with many grocery stores and discount retailers having increased their prices on October 1st to adjust to higher costs on their end.

At a 65 percent increase, sugar saw one of the biggest price hikes. The price for a kilogram of powdered sugar specifically, doubled.

Butter biscuit prices – a common snack in Germany – are up 20 percent, while coffee cream and honey both increased by 30 percent.

The price of ketchup climbed by 50 percent.

Goose leg and goose breast – typical German delicacy for holidays like Christmas – doubled in price to over €20 in some Munich shops, due to higher feed and transport costs recently.

57 percent of Germans reported that price increases were becoming a “big problem” for them in September 2022. Poll by ZDF.

What does this mean for people?

Those increases are far above the German inflation rate. Currently sitting at around 7.9 percent, the country’s inflation rate has broken post-war records several times already this year.

But one study finds many Germans feel – and act – as if the rate is much higher.

According to an Internationale Hochscule study done exclusively for the Welt newspaper, the Inflationsgefühl – or what respondents feel the inflation rate is actually like – sits at 34 percent.

Just over half those surveyed in that study reported they were “very concerned” about rising prices. Meanwhile, 37 percent said they are “somewhat concerned”.

Over 80 percent expect the problem to get worse.

Study authors say people in Germany may be overestimating the rate of inflation because the biggest increases are in areas they’ll tend to notice every day.

“We always perceive inflation where we have consumer spending,” International Hochschule Business Administration Professor Johannes Trey told Welt. “People are interested in what they have to pay every day to meet their basic needs.”

Most respondents say they’re planning on cutting spending in certain areas, with cuts in purchases for furniture, appliances, and travel the most popular cost saving measure. Around 80 percent say they’re making an effort to curb their electricity use.

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: When should I turn on my heating in Germany this year?

Respondents are less likely to cut down on luxuries such as alcohol and tobacco—or media consumption like buying newspapers or streaming subscriptions.

Support for Ukraine still high despite price pressure

Although the financial stress people in Germany are experiencing has gone up, the general level of support for Ukraine among everyday Germans is still high – despite the war being one of the main causes of the record high inflation levels.

ZDF’s poll asked “should we keep supporting Ukraine even though it means higher prices for us?”

And 74 percent said “Yes” in September.

Although the upcoming winter is expected to come with even more financial strain, that number has trended slightly upward over the last three months.

Despite more than half of German households saying they’re under financial stress, most say support for Ukraine should continue. Poll by ZDF.

Meanwhile, the federal government is currently preparing a new €200 billion package of support, on top of the €100 billion already passed by the Bundestag over the last few months.

The package is expected to provide inflation relief by introducing everything from a temporary cap on the price of gas to a successor to summer’s €9 nationwide public transport ticket.

READ ALSO: Germany to thrash out details of €200 billion energy support package

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Norway and Germany seek Nato-led cooperation for key undersea structures

Germany and Norway want to start a NATO-led alliance to protect critical underwater infrastructure, their leaders said on Wednesday, weeks after explosions hit two key gas pipelines in the fallout from the war in Ukraine.

Norway and Germany seek Nato-led cooperation for key undersea structures

 “We are in the process of asking the NATO Secretary General to set up a coordination office for the protection of underwater infrastructure,” German Chancellor Olaf Scholz told a press conference in Berlin.

“We take the protection of our critical infrastructure very seriously and nobody should believe that attacks will remain without consequences,” he said.

Norwegian Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Store said the alliance would be “an informal initiative to exchange between civilian and also military actors” with NATO providing “a centre, a coordination point”.

Underwater cables and pipelines were “arteries of the modern economy” and it was necessary to create “a coordinated joint effort to ensure security for this infrastructure”, he said.

Scholz said he and Store would propose the plan to NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, who is due in Berlin for a security conference. The Nord Stream 1 and 2 gas pipelines off the Danish island of Bornholm were targeted by two huge explosions at the end of September.

The pipelines, which connect Russia to Germany, had been at the centre of geopolitical tensions as Moscow cut gas supplies to Europe in suspected
retaliation to Western sanctions over the invasion of Ukraine.

Although they were not in operation when the leaks occurred, they both still contained gas which spewed up through the water and into the atmosphere.

Russia and Western countries, particularly the United States, have traded bitter barbs over who is responsible for the blasts.

Several European countries have since taken steps to increase security around critical infrastructure. 

The G7 interior ministers warned earlier this month at a meeting in Germany that the Nord Stream explosions had highlighted “the need to better protect our critical infrastructure”.

Norway has become Europe’s main gas supplier in the wake of the war in Ukraine, taking the place of Russia.

The Scandinavian country has a vast network of pipelines, stretching for almost 9,000 kilometres, linking it to the continent, which experts have said are at risk of sabotage.