Record rise in Swiss retail trade in April 2021 – also due to the low pandemic-related figure of the previous year

Turnover adjusted for sales days and holidays rose in the retail sector by 34.8% in nominal terms in April 2021 compared with the previous year. This is the sharpest increase since the start of the time series in January 2000 and is in large part due to the weak April 2020, during which the Covid-19 safety measures came into effect. Seasonally adjusted, nominal turnover fell by 4.3 % 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 35.7% in April 2021 compared with the previous year. Real growth takes inflation into consideration. Compared with the previous month, real, seasonally adjusted retail trade turnover registered a decline of 4.4%.

Changes in the different sectors and comparison with pre-pandemic era

Adjusted for sales days and holidays, the retail sector excluding service stations showed a 35.1% increase in nominal turnover in April 2021 compared with April 2020 (in real terms +36.2%). Service stations recorded a nominal turnover increase of 30.9% (in real terms +13.5%).

If the results of the indices are compared with the results of 2019, i.e. the last April before the outbreak of the pandemic, different rates of change emerge: The two-year comparison for retail trade turnover excluding service stations shows a nominal increase in April 2021 compared with April 2019 of 10.7 % (in real terms +12.4 %). If this two-year comparison is applied to service stations, however, nominal turnover is seen to have declined by 8.8 % (in real terms –9.9 %).

Retail trade of food, drinks and tobacco in April 2021 recorded an increase in nominal turnover of 11.8 % (in real terms +13.3 %) compared with April 2020. With growth of 15.7 % (in real terms + 16.8 %), the two-year comparison shows that turnover in this sector demonstrates a strong growth trend that is not due to a drop in the same month of the previous year. The non-food sector recorded a nominal plus of 73.1 % (in real terms +73.5 %) in comparison with the previous year. The two-year comparison, however, shows growth of 7.5 % (in real terms + 9.3 %). The turnover increases in the non-food sector are not only the result of a poor month in the previous year.

Excluding service stations, the retail sector showed a seasonally adjusted decline in nominal turnover of 4.6 % compared with the previous month (in real terms –4.8 %). Retail sales of food, drinks and tobacco registered a nominal minus of 0.8 % (in real terms –1.3 %). The non-food sector showed a minus of 7.0 % (in real terms –7.2 %).

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.