Rain drives Germans to flee, shops to discount early

FRANKFURT Tue Jul 17, 2012 8:17am EDT

People wear raincoats as they watch the FIVB Beach Volleyball Grand Slam in the rain at the Waldbuehne in Berlin July 14, 2012. REUTERS/Thomas Peter

People wear raincoats as they watch the FIVB Beach Volleyball Grand Slam in the rain at the Waldbuehne in Berlin July 14, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Thomas Peter

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FRANKFURT (Reuters) - While German retailers hang out their summer discounts early, the wet summer is providing a boost for the country's travel firms as people turn to foreign climes for sunshine.

Tour operator Alltours said it has laid on an extra five charter planes from Duesseldorf to the Canary Islands and Majorca in response to last-minute demand from Germans, who spend more than any other nation on foreign holidays.

"The prospect of a sunny summer in Germany is fading," Alltours chief executive Willi Verhuven said on Tuesday. "That is the only way to explain why travel agents have been so busy these last few weeks."

According to Germany's national weather office, there has been more rain and less sunshine than in an average summer.

Since the start of June, Germans have seen 65 percent of the rain and only 40 percent of the sunshine normally seen in June, July and August together.

Rewe - which offers package holidays under the ITS, Jahn und Tjaereborg brands - and TUI Germany, part of London-listed TUI Travel, also said Germans were heading for places such as Spain, Turkey and the Maldives to escape the miserable weather.

"Our last minute team is seeing a jump in bookings," said a spokeswoman. "It's not discounted holidays either, but regular products from our catalogues."

The bad weather spreading across northern Europe is the last thing that retailers need, however, with concerns over the euro zone debt crisis already keeping shoppers away.

German retailer Metro has said the crisis is hurting demand in Europe's biggest economy, while department store operator Karstadt on Monday said it would slash 2,000 jobs.

As in Britain, where the wet summer has burdened retailers from Marks & Spencer to JJB Sports, stores across Germany have started summer discounts early.

Department store chain Kaufhof, part of Metro, for example, is offering up to 70 percent on a range of items from sunhats to tennis rackets and beach balls.

(Reporting by Victoria Bryan and Maria Sheahan; Editing by Elaine Hardcastle)

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