Swiss GDP grew by 1.8 % after contracting 0.4 % in the first quarter.* Value added grew markedly in the service sector as a result of relaxed COVID measures. Private consumption recovered strongly. Industry also grew, although not as strongly as in previous quarters. In the second quarter, total GDP was only 0.5 % lower than the pre-crisis level seen in the fourth quarter of 2019.
Numerous public health restrictions were relaxed or lifted during the second quarter. The largest value-added growth thus appeared in sectors that had been most affected by these measures. Accommodation and food services (+48.9 %) made a clear recovery after setbacks in the winter quarters. Catering businesses were allowed to reopen gradually, while domestic tourism picked up again. Pre-crisis value-added levels were nevertheless undershot in the second quarter by approximately half. Arts, entertainment and recreation (+52.9 %)** also registered strong growth thanks to less restrictive measures. Here too, however, value added came in far below pre-crisis levels.
Trade (+4.8 %) grew markedly once brick-and-mortar businesses reopened. In addition to the non-food retail area, wholesale trade also contributed to this result. Increased mobility among the population brought transport and communication into positive figures (+1.9 %). Finally, business-related services (+1.1 %) grew again. Financial services (–0.7 %) were the only service sector to register a noticeable decline in value added. The broad-based growth of the services sector was accompanied by rising services exports (+3.2 %).
With the easing of COVID measures, private consumption (+4.1 %) rose strongly after the marked declines of the winter quarters. Households increased their consumption expenditure in almost all sectors. Government consumption (+5.5 %) grew even more strongly, due to extraordinary expenditure to cope with the pandemic. Finally, investment in equipment (+1.6 %) expanded again after a negative previous quarter. Overall, domestic demand rose strongly, which was accompanied by a slight increase in imports*** (+0.5 %). Construction investment (+0.1%) was the only domestic component of demand that virtually stagnated, in line with the subdued development of construction (–0.3 %).
In the manufacturing sector (+0.9 %), the dynamics normalised after the strong recovery of the previous quarters. Value added had aleady climbed above its pre-crisis level in the first quarter; in the second quarter it was 4.7 % higher. Most recently, falling growth in global industry and world trade slowed down parts of Swiss industry. Exports of cyclical industrial goods, such as machinery and precision instruments, decreased. In contrast, the chemical–pharmaceutical industry was again able to expand strongly. Accordingly, exports of goods**** (+0.3 %) rose slightly despite the decline in transit trade.
* Real rate of change compared to previous quarter. Adjusted for sporting events, GDP growth was +1.6 % in the second quarter and −0.4 % in the first quarter.
** Adjusted for sporting events: +20.7 %
*** Services and goods excluding valuables.
**** Excluding valuables.
***** See https://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/data/metadata/covid-19-support-for-statisticians