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Europeans prefer saving money to shopping

Hungarians, more than half of whom said they don't enjoy the experience, get the least pleasure from shopping.

Most European consumers don't like spending money and would rather save for the future, according to a study by Metro AG, Germany's biggest retailer. Some 85% of 7,000 people questioned in February and May don't enjoy spending, Georg Fuhrmann, head of industry and consumer research at Metro, said yesterday at a press briefing in Berlin. Germans dislike spending more than any other nationality included in the survey, while Italians enjoy it the most. Consumers in the euro region saved 12% of their income in 2005, Metro said, compared with US residents, who spend more than they earn every month.

More than half of Europeans who were questioned said they are setting aside funds for unforeseen events and to provide for themselves in old age. „It seems that the consumer takes more pleasure in hoarding money than in spending it for consumption,” Fuhrmann said. The readiness to spend „is very weak throughout Europe,” he said. One in three Europeans could spend more than they do now, indicating that retail sales in the region still may advance, Dusseldorf, Germany-based Metro said. Britons and Germans said they could spend more if they wanted to. The European Commission on October 11 said the economy of the dozen euro nations may not grow at all in the first quarter of next year as higher interest rates and a slowdown in the US weigh on purchasing power. German Chancellor Angela Merkel will increase a value-added tax by 3 percentage points to 19% in January, further impairing growth in Europe.

Half of Europeans compare prices for everyday purchases such as shampoo, stockings or spaghetti sauce to help save money for retirement, according to Metro. Among nationalities surveyed, only Britons said they're saving money for vacations, rather than for old age. More than a quarter of European consumers don't like to shop, Metro found. Hungarians, more than half of whom said they don't enjoy the experience, get the least pleasure from shopping. „We just have to make shopping sexy again,” Metro CEO Hans-Joachim Koerber said at the briefing. Concern about saving for retirement was strongest among Germans, 81% of whom said they must put away more money for old age than they had thought, according to Metro. Still, some 69% of German respondents said they're satisfied overall with their lives.

Metro, which gets 55% of sales from outside its domestic market, returned to its roots by buying Wal-Mart Stores Inc.'s German outlets this year. The company may make more acquisitions to gain market share in Germany and eliminate other rivals to its Real hypermarket chain, Koerber told the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung newspaper on August 9. Metro surveyed 7,000 adults in Germany, the UK, France, Italy, Poland, Spain and Hungary. The company did not provide a margin of error for replies to the questions. (Bloomberg)