More than half of German retailers pessimistic about Christmas - HDE

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FILE PHOTO: Empty stores due to the spread of COVID-19 in Cologne

BERLIN (Reuters) - More than half of German retailers expect fewer customers and falling sales over the crucial Christmas period, according to a survey of 550 companies by the German Retail Association (HDE).

"The prospects for Christmas business in this coronavirus year are worryingly poor, especially for many inner-city retailers and especially the fashion houses," said HDE managing director Stefan Genth on Sunday.

Around 52% of companies expect significant losses in sales and customers after the extension of the country's partial lockdown into December, the survey found, with 62% of retailers surveyed pessimistic about the further course of Christmas business.

"November and December are normally the strongest months of the year in terms of sales for many retailers. If these sales are now lost, many businesses will be in trouble".

The survey found that 38% of the retail companies overall and 45% of inner-city retailers see their existence threatened.

Retailers selling household goods, DIY supplies, furnishings and food, however, are reporting satisfactory to very good business, HDE said, while online sales are expected to rise by a third compared to the previous year.

Overall, the HDE retail association expects sales for November and December to rise by 1.2% this year to just under 104 billion euros (93.5 billion pounds).

(Reporting by Klaus Lauer; Writing by Caroline Copley; Editing by Frances Kerry)