WIESBADEN - Consumer prices in Germany were 1.6% higher in March 2017 than in March 2016. The inflation rate - measured by the consumer price index - thus decreased. In February 2017, it had been 2.2%. Compared with the previous month, the consumer price index rose by 0.2% in March 2017. The Federal Statistical Office (Destatis) thus confirms its provisional overall results of 30 March 2017.
The inflation rate in March 2017 was characterised mainly by the development of energy prices, as had been the case in the previous months. The year-on-year price increase ( 5.1%), however, was markedly smaller than in February 2017 ( 7.2%). This applies in particular to heating oil ( 25.2%; February 2017: 43.8%) and motor fuels ( 11.9%; February 2017: 15.6%). One of the reasons for the lower rates in March 2017 is that mineral oil product prices were up a year ago (basis-related effect). For the other energy products, the year-on-year rates of price increase in March 2017 were lower (for example, electricity: 1.5%; gas: -3.3%). Excluding energy prices, the inflation rate in March 2017 would have been 1.2%; excluding the prices of mineral oil products, it would have been 1.0%.
Food prices, too, were higher ( 2.3%) in March 2017 than in March 2016. In February 2017, the rate of food price increase had been 4.4%. In March 2017, a considerable year-on-year increase in prices was recorded especially for edible fats and oils ( 16.5%, including butter: 33.8%). Consumers paid markedly more than a year earlier also for fish and fish products ( 4.2%), vegetables ( 4.0%) and dairy products ( 3.1%). The price increases regarding other food groups were rather moderate (for example, meat and meat products: 1.4%; confectionery: 1.1%).
Compared with the overall inflation rate, the prices of goods (total) increased by an above-average 2.5% in March 2017 on March 2016, which was mainly due to the rise in energy and food prices. Compared with goods prices, the year-on-year increase in service prices as a whole ( 0.7%) was far less marked in March 2017. This price increase was mainly due to the rise in net rents exclusive of heating expenses ( 1.6% on March 2016). In addition, slightly larger price increases were observed, for example, for catering services ( 1.9%) and insurance services ( 2.4%). Marked decreases in service prices were recorded not only for package holidays but also for services of social facilities (-6.4%), which is due to the implementation of Act II on Strengthening Long-Term Care carried out since January 2017. Especially regarding home care services, there was a decrease in the co-payments to be made by people who are insured under a statutory health insurance scheme and make use of individual care services.
Compared with February 2017, the consumer price index rose by 0.2% in March 2017. In a month-on-month comparison, seasonal price rises were observed especially for clothing ( 8.9%) and footwear ( 6.1%). A major reason here was the changeover to the spring and summer collection. Smaller price increases were recorded, among other things, for package holidays and air travels ( 0.6% each).
A downward effect on the month-on-month rate of change was exerted by price decreases for energy (-0.9%). Consumers paid less especially for heating oil (-4.2%) and motor fuels (-1.9%). Total food prices, too, were down in March 2017 on the previous month (-1.6%). The largest price decreases were recorded here for vegetables (-11.7%, including butterhead lettuce and iceberg salad: -43.9%; tomatoes: -20.9%; cucumbers: -16.0%).