“I sneaked away from work for an hour to buy some more Christmas presents, hush-hush, before the lockdown on Wednesday, ” a young woman told DW as she entered a big furniture and interior decoration store on the outskirts of Berlin.

“Quite frankly, I had expected a lot more people here, so at least it looks like I won’t have to wait in a long line at the tills,” she added.

People lining up in front of a hairdresser's

Hairdressers will also have to close their shops on Wednesday

In point of fact, there’s no sign of chaos or panic buying in this area to the east of the German capital. It all feels like an ordinary pre-Christmas Monday, with more shoppers around than, say, in October or November. Exisiting coronavirus restrictions already limit the number of people allowed to be in a store at any one time.

In a nearby shopping center selling Christmas trees and plants, the situation isn’t that much different. Shoppers certainly don’t have to elbow their way through panicking crowds. They’ve got all the time to look for whatever they’re after without being kicked around by other clients.

Lockdown, which lockdown?

“You know, Christmas is approaching fast, and like every year, I’m a bit late, but hopefully not too late, to look for suitable presents,” a pensioner told DW.

“I’m not really here today because of the stricter lockdown on Wednesday — I only learned from you that retail stores will soon be closed again.”

DYI superstore parking lot

No free parking space in front of this Hornbach DIY superstore

“I did know about it,” his wife said. “But I decided to leave him in the dark about it so as to enhance our shopping experience by not putting ourselves under any time pressure,” she added with a twinkle in her eyes.

Pandemic boosts DIY

A DIY superstore across the street appeared a bit busier, with drivers desperately looking for somewhere to park. But inside the store, employees had everything under control and looked well prepared for any unexpected or expected increase in shoppers.

Hornbach shopper at the tills

Some have their shopping carts crammed full, but only some

“I’m buying some more stuff to decorate our home,” a young man told DW. “It’s the end of the year, and I finally want to get some of the projects done before January.”

“I’m going to help him,” his companion added. Since we can’t do much shopping after restricted lockdown measures come into force, I’ll have plenty of time to assist my husband, and probably the kids will also lend a helping hand,” she said.

Christmas decorations

Shopping couldn’t be any more relaxed in this Möbel Kraft furniture store near Berlin

No big fuss

Unlike during the first lockdown in spring of this year, there are hardly any signs of panic buying this time around. “People must have seen the stricter measures coming all along,” a female shopper said, “so many did their shopping a long time ago.”

“The closure of retail stores in two days’ time doesn’t really come as a big surprise, and everyone able to think logically and see our infection numbers should accept the measure,” she argued.