Swiss retail trade turnover rises steeply in March 2021

Turnover adjusted for sales days and holidays rose in the retail sector by 21.5 % in nominal terms in March 2021 compared with the previous year. This sharp increase is mainly due to the low value for March 2020 when the Covid-19 pandemic first began to filter through. Seasonally adjusted, nominal turnover rose by 21.9 % compared with the previous month. These are provisional findings from the Federal Statistical Office (FSO).

Real turnover adjusted for sales days and holidays rose in the retail sector by 22.6 % in March 2021 compared with the previous year. Real growth takes inflation into consideration. Compared with the previous month, real, seasonally adjusted retail trade turnover registered an increase of 22.1 %.

Activity in the sectors

Adjusted for sales days and holidays, the retail sector excluding service stations showed a 22.3 % increase in nominal turnover in March 2021 compared with March 2020 (in real terms +23.5 %). Service stations recorded a nominal turnover increase of 10.9 % (real +2.0 %).

Retail sales of food, drinks and tobacco registered an increase in nominal turnover of 7.0 % (in real terms +8.5 %), whereas the non-food sector registered a nominal plus of 39.9 % (in real terms +41.1 %). All sectors recorded strong increases. Particularly the sector “other household equipment, textiles, DIY and furniture” (+88.5 %; real +90.1 %). This was followed by the sectors “information and communication equipment” (+33.8 %; real +42.8 %), “other goods (clothing, chemists, watches and jewellery)” (+30.7 %; real +31.9 %), “cultural and recreation goods in specialised stores” (+29.7 %; real +29.4 %) and the sector “market stalls, retail sale via mail order houses or via internet” (+24.5 %; real +25.1 %).

Excluding service stations, the retail sector showed a seasonally adjusted increase in nominal turnover of 23.3 % compared with the previous month (in real terms +23.6 %). Retail sales of food, drinks and tobacco registered a plus of 5.7 % (in real terms +5.8 %). The non-food sector showed a plus of 43.9 % (in real terms +44.0 %).

Fundamental revision of results

The indices for the retail trade turnover statistics were revised as of January 2014; the rates of change in the retail trade turnover statistics were revised accordingly in January 2015. The revision includes changes in the calculation methods as well as adjustments to the answers received from businesses. The model for the estimate of calendar adjusted and seasonally adjusted series was also revised.

Pandemic and statistical results

The COVID-19 pandemic is currently affecting all of society and the economy. To measure this impact the Federal Statistical Office (FSO) must continue in these difficult circumstances to provide the public, but in particular the media and decision makers, with reliable data.

The results published in this press release are based on the data currently available. They may need to be corrected or revised.

Methodological notice

Unadjusted, adjusted for calendar effects and seasonally adjusted time series are available and can be consulted on the statistics website:

A breakdown by commodity groups and by business size is also available: only unadjusted figures are calculated for this breakdown.

The results are presented in index form (2015=100) in both nominal and real terms. The real values are obtained by adjusting the nominal values for price changes using the Swiss Consumer Price Index (CPI).

Data are seasonally adjusted in order to exclude seasonal fluctuations from the time series. This is done using the X12-ARIMA method. On each occasion the whole time series is re-calculated. Furthermore all time series are adjusted for calendar effects (not every month has the same number of sales days and holidays). The method used for calendar adjustment is to estimate the calendar effect by means of a regression model.

For each series, the model calculates an average weight for each individual day of the week and applies these weights to each month. The resulting monthly factors are used to adjust turnover accordingly. The adjustment made in December may be somewhat distorted, as the adjustment factor is applied to turnover for the month of December as a whole, despite the fact that the Christmas turnover is not dependent on the number of weekdays. In December 2016 (and in 2011 and 2005) this effect was particularly noticeable, as Christmas Day and Boxing Day fell on a Saturday and Sunday, meaning that the month had more weekdays of high turnover than usual.

Information concerning the survey

The retail trade turnover statistics are based on a random sample of approximately 4000 businesses. It is a monthly survey, with small-sized companies being asked to provide monthly turnover figures on a quarterly basis.

The statistics are based on the General Classification of Economic Activities (NOGA) from the year 2008, which meets international standards and classifies businesses into different economic activities based on their economic activities.