Carnival lockdown saves Germany hangover but costs economy millions

Photo: AP A carnival reveller rides an electric scooter near the Severinstor gate in Cologne, Germany, Monday, Feb. 15, 2021.

Germany's Carnival season brings more than just a smile to people's faces: It fuels a thriving local economy. But not this year since the pandemic has put a damper on the popular annual party, which runs from Shrove or Rose Monday and ends with the start of the Lent fasting season on Ash Wednesday.

Data released by the Federal Statistical Office (Destatis) on Tuesday showed German imports of "Carnival and entertainment goods" between January and November 2020 amounted to just €71.3m  ($86.6m), 23.2% less than a year before.

"Exports of streamers, garlands and the like also fell by almost 26% to €33.2m," Destatis said, as quoted by dpa.

The data includes the 2020 Carnival season, which unlike this year was largely allowed to go ahead as normal with its thousands-strong throngs of partygoers and jesters.

Until the coronavirus crisis, foreign trade in party goods for Carnival had been continually on the rise. In 2019, imported goods amounted to around €102m, over two-thirds higher than a decade previously, the government statisticians said.

This year, Carnival fell flat due to the lockdown measures still in place across Germany, forcing the closure of bars and the cancellation of parades.

The Cologne-based German Economic Institute estimates that the 2021 cancellations cost the nation's economy around €1.5bn, with restaurants, retailers, hotels and the transport sector losing out in particular.

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