Despite on and off closures of Swiss retailers last year, total 2020 retail sales figures rose by 0.1% compared to 2019.
Switzerland’s backdrop of negative inflation, meant real total year-on-year retail sales rose by 0.8%.
However, headline sales numbers masks significant variations by retail sector. While e-commerce (+14.1%), sales of technology (+13.8%) and food, drink and tobacco sales (+8.5%) rose substantially, retail sectors such as shoes and clothing (-13.8%) and fuel (-21.9%) were down significantly. Lower fuel sales were partly driven by lower global prices and reduced mobility.
In addition, sales were highly volatile across the year. Retail sales in January 2020, were only slightly below January 2019 (-0.3%). Monthly retail spending data from January 2020 onwards show large variations to 2019. March 2020 (-7.9%) and April 2020 (-19.1%) experienced the largest negative variances to 2019, with smaller negative variations in August (-0.3%) and November (-2.0%). However, overall, positive year-on-year variances in February (+4.9%), May (+4.3%), June (+3.0%), July (+3.8%), September (+3.1%), October (+5.1%) and December (+5.8%), exceeded negative variances by 0.1% across the whole year.
Overall, Switzerland saw a similar amount of retail spending, done at different times of the year, on a different mix of products, and, to some extent via different channels, in particular more sales via the internet.