March 22, 2023

Crisis. At Berlin’s Christmas markets not even hot wine helps

2 min read

“Still the pandemic continues, we already have another problem, inflation,” vents one of the vendors at the Potsdamer Platz market in Berlin, as she pushes the first layer of ice away from the wooden roof of her tent.

Temperatures have dropped in the German capital with the first negative degrees of the year. If before this was a reason to invite to the Christmas markets, especially for the mulled wine, this year the fear of lack of customers again looms for those who sell there.

Juan Carlos is selling toys again after almost ten years of absence from the Christmas markets. He regrets the lack of people, but believes that everything will get better in December, when there will be less left for Christmas. Still, he doesn’t ignore the changes in prices.

“Everything is more expensive. What we buy, what we sell. But where I notice it most, for now, is in the supermarket. The ten euros that I used four months ago for groceries now isn’t enough for anything,” he lamented.

For Martin, the organic options available on the shelves have become a luxury.

“If before I could buy more natural products, which were better for my health, now those options have become unaffordable. We have to choose the cheapest,” he pointed out.

Next door, his girlfriend explains that the general rise in prices, especially in energy costs, has already made her turn down the heating at home.

“Until now, with temperatures above 10 degrees, we didn’t have much of a problem. But now, with the cold weather, we’re going to have to beef up the sweaters to wear indoors. I’m much more careful about the time I have the heating on, and the number of times we go for that expensive sushi dinner we like,” he shared with a smile.

In some stalls at the Potsdamer Platz market, one of the first to open in Berlin, the hot wine can reach 8 euros (with the glass included), the sausage with bread 4 and a half euros, and for a 200 gram bag of toasted almonds you pay 11 euros this year. Higher prices and not very sweet for those who pass by.

“The Christmas markets are fantastic, they have a good atmosphere, but this year I don’t intend to come very often. They have become a luxury, not a necessity. Buying food is a necessity,” Marius emphasized, while finishing his lunch.

The closing time for this market remains, like last year, at 22:00. Others, like the market at Breitscheidplatz, close a little earlier. With electricity costs at record levels, most tents opt for LED or dimmer lighting.