Berlin in Germany where the case was heard. Photo: Wikimedia Commons, Bleppo
Germany has suffered a record fall in new orders for manufacturing firms. Photo: Wikimedia Commons, Bleppo

New orders for German manufacturing firms saw their sharpest fall on record in April during the coronavirus shutdown, official data showed Friday, plunging a worse-than-expected 25.8% from March.

The closely-watched indicator of future industrial activity saw “the biggest fall since the beginning of the data series in 1991” just after German reunification, federal statistics authority Destatis said.

The reading was down 36.6% year-on-year, it added.

Destatis had previously flagged March’s 15% month-on-month plunge as the worst in the history of the industrial orders measure.

“The collapse in new industrial orders worsened again in line with expectations in April,” the economy ministry in Berlin said, as “restrictions against the corona pandemic were in place during the whole month.”

Demand for investment goods was hardest-hit in April, shedding more than 30%, while producer goods lost almost 23% and consumer goods more than 11%.

In a geographical breakdown, demand from Germany’s eurozone neighborhood fell the most at over 30%, with the rest of the world not far behind and domestic demand down more than 22%.

Other indicators of German industrial output have also plummeted in recent months.

Since January, carmakers have built fewer than one million vehicles, down more than one-third compared with the first five months of 2019.

Ministers in Chancellor Angela Merkel’s coalition government this week agreed a new 130-billion-euro (US$148 billion) stimulus package to get the country moving again as it gradually emerges from infection control lockdowns.

The country’s biggest post-war package includes cuts to VAT, handouts to families and subsidies for greener transport options.

However, the economy ministry said that the “given gradual loosening (of lockdowns) the worst of the industrial recession should be behind us.”

But export-oriented manufacturing firms may need to wait for demand to pick up again in Germany’s EU neighbors and further abroad before feeling the full benefits of recovery.