First, the social divide from Munich to Gelsenkirchen, from Maximilianstraße with its luxury boutiques to Bahnhofstraße with fashion and discount chains – these two places show very clearly how Germans currently perceive price increases differently.
Of course, this is not comparable to the suffering Russian ruler Vladimir Putin has caused in Ukraine since the end of February. Bombs, missiles and war crimes allegedly committed by his troops are hard to beat for cruelty.
But almost all families in Germany suffer the consequences. Due to sanctions and the aftermath of the gradually decreasing crown pandemic, inflation was 7.3% in March after hovering around 5% in the previous months.
In Monaco, the per capita income in 2019 was 32,000 euros per year
The advantage for goods was even 12.3 percent and for energy 39.5 percent. Only: this development does not affect everyone equally. In Monaco, per capita income in 2019 was over € 32,000 per year, well above the national average of around € 23,700, according to a recent study by the Economic and Social Science Institute (WSI). The neighboring districts are also significantly higher.
A completely different picture emerges in the Ruhr area. The residents of Gelsenkirchen had to earn a living on just € 17,015, in the neighborhood the values are below € 21,500 and therefore also well below the national average.
However, both regions have one thing in common: after two years of masks, minimum distances and contact restrictions, people want to go out again and enjoy the good weather; under the sun on Easter Saturday in Munich or a few days later in Gelsenkirchen. But between Louis Vuitton and Primark, Chanel and TK Maxx, the different living environments are evident. This is visible on a large and small scale.
Munich: Bouncers control the entrance to the boutique
50 cents are due for the parking ticket on Maximilianstraße – for twelve minutes. Passersby wonder if a Rolls Royce or Bentley is parked across the street. “Someone is waiting at every entrance here,” says an astonished young man as he strolls through the boutiques with his friends. Suited bouncers check the entrance here.
A woman joins one of the queues and says to her friend, “I feel a little too chic today.” A right-wing populist group is rushing against Islam on Max-Joseph-Platz, and the counter-demonstrators are immediately on the scene. The police are trying to keep the situation under control.
In Gelsenkirchen, however, the largest and latest electronics retailer in the city center closes and invites to sell. Local newspapers write that the supplier has not reached an agreement with the landlord on the rental price. In front of a shop, a couple are arguing loudly about money; the nonexistent. An elderly man in a wheelchair is playing music on the side of the road in an attempt to raise some money.
The Gelsenkirchen family has felt the rise in prices, especially when it comes to meat
Andreas Rohne and his wife are queuing in front of Louis Vuitton. He is one of the few who accepts a conversation about inflation. “We’re relatively wealthy, so that doesn’t really concern us,” he says frankly.
He certainly sees price increases when shopping or at the pump, and the billing for ancillary costs is likely to be higher as well. “It’s not that dramatic right now,” she says with dismay. However, he sees the need to significantly relieve lower-income families.
Thomas and Carola Führer leave Gelsenkirchen Primark with their two children and a shopping bag. They wanted to get an idea of what was offered on their own, they say. “You look at what’s on offer or you buy differently as a result,” says Carola Führer about inflation. Especially when it comes to meat, the family suffers.
Now around 100 euros are due for the weekly shopping instead of the previous 50 or 60 euros. They should set priorities. “If school things are needed now, then they have priority,” she says. But even the printer cartridge, which was used extensively during the pandemic to print spreadsheets, now costs € 109. “Two years ago I paid 60 euros for the same package,” she describes.
Married couple, both at work, says: “We don’t even have a club”
Furthermore, they had just received a € 20 rent increase. After seven years, this is certainly justified, but it’s just another cost factor. “We don’t even have an association,” the two say, referring to membership fees. During the Easter holidays they tried to do a lot together, but they always had to pay attention to the budget.
“This too is not always possible – and now less and less”, sums up Carola Führer. Both are employees, he is a warehouse worker, she is a retailer. The situation is similarly described by a scaffold that introduces himself as Mr. Celik; he doesn’t want to name him. He does not want to save on children, he points out: “I would rather give up a month”.
But even without it has its limits. Retirees, caregivers, artisans and office workers are feeling the price increases. “It affects everyone”, he is convinced. A relief like the nine euro bill would hardly help in the business of him. “I start work at 6 in the morning, then I have to leave at 4 in the morning and get up at 3:30,” says Celik. He sees no alternative to the car here.
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The people of Munich are also not completely free of worries
Meanwhile, the people of Munich are not entirely free of worries either. “I really think property prices are key,” says Rohne, for example, in line with Louis Vuiltton. Even for his children he still does not know what the future will bring.
Christian and Lydia from Rosenheim stand at the Viktualienmarkt sharing potato wedges. At the local baker, for example, the sandwiches are now considerably smaller, for the same price, they say.
Now they should pay around 13 euros for a mango instead of the previous six to eight euros. “The problem is that not everyone is really affected by the price increases,” the Rosenheimer sees some beneficiaries wanting to increase their profits in this context. The consequence: the line at the bakery is getting shorter and shorter because customers simply can’t afford it anymore.