The global economy is expected to recover in the course of the coming financial year 2020/21. Due to the significant resurgence in Covid-19 infections in autumn 2020, particularly in Europe, many European countries have already responded by (re-)introducing economic and social restrictions. However, the current restrictions are less strict than they were in the spring, to avoid strong negative effects of a similar magnitude on national economies. Since the education sector as well as construction and industry are often excluded from the new restrictions, many European countries speak of a ‘lockdown light’ to clearly distinguish it from the lockdown in spring 2020. The current measures in most countries are especially aimed at reducing or avoiding personal contact. Accordingly, cultural life and leisure activities are particularly affected, which also results in far-reaching restrictions for tourism, the events industry as well as the accommodation and hospitality sector. Consequently, the measures again have a direct negative impact on the business activities of the HoReCa sector, which is one of our core customer groups. The resulting economic consequences should become particularly apparent in countries with strong tourism.
Before restrictions were tightened again, forecasts expected a return in global economic output up to the same level as the penultimate financial year 2018/19. However, a return to pre-crisis levels is likely to be delayed further due to the importance of Europe for the global economy. Meanwhile, a recovery of the global economy to the level before the pandemic still depends on the course of the pandemic on other continents and in individual countries. Apart from the European economy, the American and Chinese economies in particular contribute significantly to global economic growth.
In addition to the course of the Covid-19 pandemic, it will be important for a global economic recovery to which extent an escalation of existing trade conflicts, for example between the USA and China or the EU, can be avoided. Considering the UK’s imminent withdrawal from the EU, a successful conclusion of a treaty governing the economic cooperation between the EU and the UK could also have a positive impact.
The forecast for the German economy for financial year 2020/21 so far assumes a clearly positive development and real growth of approximately 1%. However, real economic output will not yet reach the level of the penultimate financial year. In November, the authorities reintroduced restrictions in response to the outbreak of the infection, which, in addition to the cultural sector, primarily affect tourism and the hotel and hospitality industry as well as public events for a period of one month – with an extension possibility until December. Provided that the restrictions are only for a short period of time and, subject to the further pandemic development, the measures should only slow down overall economic recovery to a limited extent.
According to forecasts to date, recovery is spreading across almost all sectors, that is, imports, exports, private consumption and the labour market. In the hospitality and tourism sectors, recovery depends not only on lifting the restrictions, but also on the consumers feeling safe and their propensity to consume. While the labour market, supported by government stimulus measures, has so far proved to be robust, it cannot be ruled out that negative economic effects of the pandemic will only be felt with a time lag in the coming financial year. For example, the economy could be affected by a rise in insolvencies or unemployment and the resulting negative impact on private consumption.
Depending on the further course of the pandemic, we expect the hotel and hospitality industry to perform positively in calendar year 2021 compared to the previous year. Currently, there is no reason to assume that the pre-crisis level of calendar year 2019 can be reached again in 2021. Whether this level can be reached again in the year after that cannot be reliably predicted right now.
For the coming financial year, an economic recovery is expected for Western Europe as a whole. However, this will not yet match the level seen before the outbreak. The deterioration in the infection situation in all Western European countries in autumn 2020 could contribute to this by delaying economic recovery. As in Germany, the reintroduced measures to combat the pandemic in most Western European countries will not be on a par with the level of spring 2020. If the infection rate cannot be contained with the introduced measures or if the current restrictions, contrary to current plans, continue to be enforced for a longer period of time or are expanded to other areas, there is a risk that economic recovery will not materialise until the following financial year.
As in Germany, the manufacturing sector is a key building block of the recovery. In addition to higher domestic demand, exports, particularly to Asia, are also expected to increase again. In some Western European countries, such as Austria, Spain and Portugal, tourism accounts for an above-average proportion of the gross domestic product; therefore, economic development is more dependent on the tourism industry. However, due to the current situation and a possible change in consumer behaviour with regard to travel preferences, the development of tourism cannot be reliably forecast. However, we anticipate that it will take several years before tourism returns to pre-pandemic levels.
The development of the hospitality industry is closely linked to the tourism sector, especially in countries that are more dependent on the travel industry. While we expect a clearly positive development of the hospitality industry in Western Europe as a whole compared to 2020, the recovery in tourism countries could initially be weaker. However, we generally expect domestic demand in the hospitality industry to grow in all Western European countries over the next 2 financial years.
For Russia, current forecasts assume that overall economic growth will end up slightly below the level of financial year 2019/20, with the economy expected to continue to recover over the course of the year. The recovery is attributable to an increase in industrial production. The energy sector, above all oil and gas, accounts for a large share of the GDP at around 20% and more than 60% of Russian exports. A return to global economic growth could be associated with higher sales of oil and gas, and thus an improvement in public finances, which could also result from potential increases in commodity prices. The labour market is expected to develop increasingly positively throughout the course of the year. Private consumption, which declined as a result of the Covid-19 measures, is also projected to reverse over the course of the financial year, resulting in high growth momentum. A strong increase in private consumption should have a positive effect on demand for food, which is particularly important for the Traders sector. It should also result in increased sales in the hospitality industry.
The economy in Eastern Europe could already return to the level of financial year 2018/19 in the next year. The Eastern European countries were affected by the Covid-19 pandemic much later in spring and with significantly lower infection rates than in Western Europe. As a result, the economic losses in Eastern Europe were comparatively small. However, a return to pre-crisis levels in Eastern Europe requires that the recent sharp rise in infection figures, which already significantly exceeds the level of spring 2020, can be curbed quickly. In this case, the positive economic development should apply to most countries in this region. Industrial production as well as imports and exports should return to the level before the outbreak of the crisis. The same applies to private consumption, supported by an expected easing of the situation on the labour market, for example in Poland or Romania.
Even if the infection situation remains tense, we expect a positive development in demand among Traders due to the continued importance of the Traders sector for the basic food supply. By contrast, the development of the hospitality industry is strongly tied to the course of the pandemic and potential restrictions. It cannot be predicted under the current conditions.
Following the slump during the pandemic, the Asian economy is expected to grow strongly again, probably by more than 5% compared to the previous year. It could reach about the same level as before the crisis. India is likely to follow the positive development of the other Asian countries, albeit with a time delay, as the country continues to be relatively severely affected by Covid-19. If the pandemic can be kept under control, the labour market, private consumption, imports and exports should develop positively again according to the forecast. In contrast to Europe, a renewed outbreak of the pandemic has so far been largely prevented in Asian countries. This is also reflected in a faster recovery in travel activity in Asia compared to other regions, from which the hotel and hospitality industry should also benefit. Overall, strong year-on-year growth is expected for the hospitality industry in calendar year 2021 and beyond. However, this is based on the assumption that the Covid-19 situation will not worsen again. Another deterioration of the Covid-19 infection situation is expected to lead to a negative development of the economic situation in many countries in the region.