Sunday, January 16

Expensive electricity did not slow down this year’s Christmas shopping

Norwegians keep up the pace in Christmas shopping. The record trade from last year seems to be repeating itself this year.

Christmas shopping was underway in Oslo City already in November.

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Christmas shopping in shops and malls is holding up well. This year’s trade looks to be about the same as last year. Then it was record high, with strong growth from the corona-free Christmas 2019.

Trade business organization Wood estimates a growth of 1.5 per cent in turnover in the shopping centers in week 50, compared with the same week last year. With deductions for about the same expected price growth this year, this indicates approximately unchanged volume that week.

Kvarud Analysis has prepared the figures. The week includes 13. – 19. December.

In the first three weeks of December, the retail trade’s turnover in the shopping centers increased by 0.4 per cent, according to Virke.

Jarle Hammerstad is head of trade policy at Virke and reckons that overall there will be a slight growth in Christmas trade in December, compared with last year.

– The last days of shopping will be crucial. December 22 is traditionally the biggest shopping day of the year, he says.

Starts with high 2020

Some growth compared to last year may sound modest. But this year’s Christmas shopping started at a very high starting level from 2020.

Christmas 2020, the trade was very good, with a strong boost in the corona’s first Christmas. Norwegians could not travel abroad. There were limited opportunities to go to restaurants, bars and cultural experiences.

Instead, they traded goods for Christmas.

In a report DNB presented in January, the Christmas trade is defined as the whole of November and December. Based on card data, DNB estimates that in-store and online purchases of goods increased by a solid 15 per cent at Christmas 2020, compared with the corona-free Christmas 2019.

Even with a deduction for price growth of around 3 per cent, Christmas trade in goods was at a record high level in 2020. Therefore, further growth this year actually means a good Christmas for the shops, even though the growth is weak.

The card data is based on figures from Vipps and Norwegian banks’ payment system BankAxept. Eight out of ten card payments in store is performed with a BankAxept card.

Expensive electricity does not stop trade

Vipps has prepared figures for Aftenposten for the days 1–22. December this year, based on card use with BankAxept. The figures include trade in physical stores and show that the 2020 promise remains for Christmas 2021.

Commercial manager Vegar Heir in Vipps sees several possible reasons why the physical stores are likely to have a good Christmas season this year as well.

– In part, I think some of the development may be due to the fact that we have learned to live with and follow the authorities’ restrictions, he says.

Heir also points to reports from manufacturers about delays in the transport of certain goods from Asia and the United States.

– Some of us therefore choose to shop in stores to be sure that we get the Christmas gifts we want, he says.

Historically expensive electricity in southern Norway marks the beginning of Christmas.

– Despite high electricity prices, many Norwegians have good advice. Low interest rates and changing travel advice mean that many have dropped holidays abroad. Thus, they have more money to buy physical gifts for, says Heir.

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Very good at the malls

The Olav Thon Group owns and manages 83 shopping malls in Norway. Deputy CEO Ole-Christian Hallerud has received figures for Christmas shopping up to and including week 50.

– It looks very good. Our impression is that the Christmas shopping this year will be good. People have been out earlier than before, so it’s a little early to conclude. But we get reports that the businesses are very happy, he says.

Hallerud believes that the growth in Christmas shopping this year can be 2–3 percent, compared with last year.

– But 2020 was a very good year for trade, he says.

Hallerud makes a reservation that everything depends on the numbers for the last week before Christmas Eve.

For the various shops, he pulls out textiles and shoes.

– Such stores seem to do well in Christmas shopping. This is gratifying because this industry has struggled throughout the corona, he says.

Good at sports

The sports industry is very satisfied, even though CEO Trond Evald Hansen of the Norwegian Sports Industry Association has not summed up the figures yet.

– But it seems to be a very good Christmas shopping this year. All signals indicate that. We have been lucky with the weather. Snow and cold are good for us, says Hansen.

In the midst of the sadness, closures are leading to increased sales of sports shops.

– People compensate by getting out into nature. We notice this in our stores, says Hansen.

Not Christmas shopping for everyone

Not everyone can take part in the Christmas shopping. Poor health and poor advice can make the road to the mall long.

The Salvation Army experiences that they have had a greater demand this Christmas than before.

– This applies to many places in the country, says communications manager Geir Smith-Solevåg.

He says many struggle with a lot at the same time.

– Electricity prices, higher interest rates, more expensive food and more expensive petrol mean that many who previously lived with small margins, do not get it going now. It creates a spiritual crisis in addition to the material one, says Smith-Solevåg.

But it is both dark and light in the run – up to Christmas.

– We also see a lot of warm giving joy!

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