Why isn't complaining sweet?

Not everyone complains about winter

"It is possible that all the white splendor in the flatlands will disappear again, but it could also be that Santa Claus needs the sledge," says meteorologist Dorothea Paetzold from the German Weather Service. Given this unreliability, it is not difficult to complain about the current weather conditions. However, there are also people who appreciate the onset of winter - it's good for business.

The ice wine winemakers

Theo Lies, for example, is looking forward to the icy cold for the second time this year. The winter gave the Saale and Unstrut winegrowers an extraordinary ice harvest - "only in January and now again, at the beginning of December. That is very unusual," says the spokesman for the Saale-Unstrut Wine Association. The winemakers were able to pick the grapes from the vines on December 1st and 2nd at minus ten degrees at night. "Usually the ice harvest takes place shortly before Christmas Eve at the earliest," says Lies. The berries must be frozen before they can be harvested. If you squeeze them, you get a syrup - which is very sweet this year thanks to the cold. The must now has to ferment for at least six months before it hits the wine shelves in autumn 2011. Incidentally, the freezing temperatures also have a downside for the ice winemakers: If the temperature falls below minus 20 degrees, the vines would be damaged, reports Lies. "That's why the winemakers will look very carefully at the thermometer from now on."

The clothes shops

Axel Augustin is currently also concerned with the freezing temperatures - but more in combination with precipitation. Because "when the streets are icy, the customers stay away," fears the managing director of the Federal Association of German Textile Retailers. Apart from that, his industry is extremely satisfied with the temperatures. "Warm things like sweaters and winter jackets are of course the most popular," says Augustin. "And this high season doesn't stop after Christmas either." Traditionally, textiles are not often given away as gifts, but some silk ties or cashmere sweaters end up under the Christmas tree. "Many buyers use their vacation to redeem their gift vouchers - especially since the next wave of reductions often starts then," explains Augustin.

The hardware stores

Stefan Michell observed a "special phenomenon": Hamster purchases of road salt. "People bought as much this year in October alone as they usually did in the entire months from October to December," says the spokesman for the DIY sector association BHB. His assumption: after the heavy winter last year, people want to play it safe this time. At that time, road salt was in short supply. Michell is still experiencing bottlenecks and a large number of reorders, "but I am optimistic that we will get the supplies baked this winter". Especially since the demand for the recent cold spell has risen again: In addition to road salt, ice scrapers, snow shovels and sledges are also in great demand. "By the way, they are also great as a Christmas present."

The candy merchants

Speaking of which: sweet treats are also ideal for this. The balance of the Federal Association of the German Confectionery Industry is correspondingly positive: "The Christmas business has got off to a good start," said spokesman Karsten Daum. Fine baked goods are particularly popular: "Speculoos, gingerbread and Stollen - these are the Christmas classics," Daum lists. "And of course, Santa Clauses made of chocolate."

The tea houses

Tea is a winter product. That's what Jan-Berend Holzapfel says, and he should know: As managing director of the traditional tea house Ronnefeldt, he has seen particularly strong demand, especially in the past two weeks, thanks to the icy weather. "For many, there is nothing better than relaxing with a cup of tea in front of the stove or fireplace in winter," he says. In the high season, his tea experts mix new varieties every year, "which our customers ask for in September," says Holzapfel. This year, the tea blend Chai is still in great demand, "Indian spicy tea that has been a hit for ten years".

The travel agencies

Many imagine a siesta on the palm beach on a beautiful Advent Sunday: "When the weather is bad, the booking curves skyrocket," says Torsten Schäfer from the German Travel Association (DRV). It is difficult to prove whether a customer comes to the travel agency because he wants to escape the snow at short notice or wants to book his Caribbean cruise that has been planned for months. But the DRV spokesman knows: "Winter is the high season for long-distance travel." Because even the Mediterranean can no longer boast pleasant bathing temperatures until March, sun addicts are drawn to more distant regions - "Thailand, Florida, Dubai or the Maldives," lists Schäfer. "On the other hand, the winter weather also encourages people to book a ski holiday - the white winter landscape outside is very tempting." Significantly more Germans will pack their bags in the coming weeks compared to the previous year. "Christmas is a preferred time to travel," says Schäfer. If you have not yet booked, you should therefore hurry: some flights to the south may already be fully booked.