Germans feeling the squeeze over surging food, energy prices

Middle- and low-income families say they’re struggling to make ends meet amid high inflation, soaring energy bills.

Germans feeling the squeeze over surging food, energy prices

Middle- and low-income families in Germany are struggling to cope with rising inflation and skyrocketing energy prices, angered by what they see as government inaction over their plight.

Inflation has soared in recent months, hitting 7.5% in June, and according to the latest German central bank estimate, it is likely to rise further this fall, reaching double digits.

“People are worried,” Ramona, a retiree living in the capital Berlin, told Anadolu Agency, adding that they are looking for ways to lower their electricity and water bills.

“We already changed the shower head and the taps (to water-saving versions), and we’ll only turn on the heat in the living room,” she said.

Russia’s war on Ukraine and growing tensions between Berlin and Moscow have sent gas and oil prices soaring and also pushed up the prices of food and other essential goods.

Sabine, a working mother, said even at discount chains, food prices are surging and everything is getting more and more expensive.

“For what I used to pay for three people, now I have to calculate at least €50 more a week. That’s very hard,” she said.

Retirees hit hard

Retirees are among those hardest hit by the cost of living crisis, and many accuse the government of abandoning them.

Giesela, a retired kindergarten teacher, said pensioners are struggling to make ends meet.

“We’ve simply been abandoned. We pensioners probably aren’t worth anything anymore,” she said.

“I no longer shop at supermarkets, only at discount stores. And then I think about whether or not I should buy fruit, for example.”

This April the German government approved a relief package to ease the pressure of rising energy bills, but critics says it falls far short of tackling the crisis.

The package included a one-off €300 ($299) energy tax break and €200 payment for welfare recipients, and a €9-a-month public transport ticket which expires at the end of August.

The government said the €9 ticket will not be extended due to high costs.

Many German have also already heard from their landlords that rent is going up.*

Among them, Brigitte, a retiree living in Berlin, said they’re worried that energy costs and rents will rise further in the coming months.

“We now pay €50 more rent monthly due to an increase in operating costs,” she said.

“Now we’re afraid that it will be too much, but what can we do?”

Soaring oil and gas prices have forced people to change their habits to make ends meet. They are changing the ways they shop and cutting spending on vacations and leisure activities.

“I have a car, but I ride a bike or take the train,” said Sandro, a father, adding that he is doing everything to keep up with inflation and rising energy bills.

“I try not to use the heat, not to run electrical appliances. I’m doing whatever I can to save,” he said.

Energy bills rising threefold

According to price comparison portal Verivox, the price of electricity is expected to increase 25% in the next couple of months, pushing bills up more than €300 ($299) for an average family.

German households will have to pay around €3,500 ($3,498) for gas this year – nearly three times what they were paying last year – according to the latest estimates.

Jurgen, a father of four, said they have been taking energy-saving measures, even taking cold showers, but it has been very difficult to cope with the rising energy bills.

He criticized the government for not doing enough to lighten the load on citizens and instead abandoning them.

"As a family of six, it's very difficult. Too little to live, too much to die,” he said.