The consumer sentiment index rose by 0.5 points to -27.8 points heading into December from a revised -28.3 the month before and above expectations of analysts polled by Reuters for a -27.9 reading.
An improved willingness to buy and less appetite to save pushed the index, published jointly by the GfK institute and the Nuremberg Institute for Market Decisions (NIM), slightly upwards.
"After three consecutive months of decline, consumer sentiment is stabilising as the year draws to a close," said Rolf Buerkl, consumption expert at NIM. "The mood is still characterised by uncertainty and concern."
December 2023 shows a consumer climate score of -27.8, a slight decrease from -28.3 in November 2023 and an improvement from December 2022's -40.1.
Willingness to buy improved from -16.3 in October 2023 to -15.0 in November 2023. Income expectations also declined from -15.3 to -16.7 during the same period. Business cycle expectations slightly improved, from -2.4 in October 2023 to -2.3 in November 2023.
The consumer climate indicator forecasts the progress of real private consumption in the following month.
An indicator reading above zero signals year-on-year growth in private consumption. A value below zero indicates a drop compared with the same period a year earlier.
According to GfK, a one-point change in the indicator corresponds to a year-on-year change of 0.1% in private consumption.
The "willingness to buy" indicator represents the balance between positive and negative responses to the question: "Do you think now is a good time to buy major items?"
The income expectations sub-index reflects expectations about the development of household finances in the coming 12 months.
The additional business cycle expectations index reflects respondents' assessment of the general economic situation over the next 12 months.