Finns seem to have loosened their purse strings somewhat this Christmas, although consumers remain cautious. Most people do not purchase their Christmas gifts until December, but young people in particular also take advantage of Black Friday campaigns at stores. Changes in Christmas commerce are often also a predictor of retail trade in the coming year.

According to the Christmas present index used by the Finnish Commerce Federation to predict consumption at Christmas time, Christmas commerce looks brighter this year than in previous years. The Christmas present index is at -14 this year, whereas it was at -18 last year and -20 the year before. The background information for the index was obtained through a consumer survey commissioned by Kantar TNS.

“Consumers are clearly cautious in their purchasing intentions, but despite this, the index is clearly growing. Based on the index, we can predict that Christmas commerce will not decrease this year,” says Jaana Kurjenoja, Chief Economist at the Finnish Commerce Federation.

Christmas is unquestionably the most important season for retail trade. Turnover in December is about one quarter higher than the monthly average. For department store trade and many specialty goods trade sectors, the significance of December is even greater.

Last year, the increase in sales subject to value added tax brought on by the Christmas season was just over EUR 890 million more than the monthly average. In other words, the increase in sales brought on by the Christmas season was EUR 194 for every resident of Finland aged 15 or over. Overall retail trade sales subject to value added tax totalled approximately EUR 4.7 billion last December.

Since the mid-1990s, changes in retail sales volumes in December have been a good predictor of the development of turnover volumes for the next year.

“Apparently the same factors that influence people’s enthusiasm about Christmas purchases also affect them well into the next year. Now, with the prevailing uncertainty also at an international level, it is very interesting to see how this year’s Christmas commerce will predict the coming year,” says Kurjenoja.

Youth in particular are interested in Black Friday and Cyber Monday

E-commerce is also an important purchasing channel at Christmas. That said, just over 40 per cent of respondents say they do not plan to buy Christmas presents online. A total of 14 per cent of consumers do not buy Christmas presents online because they do not trust delivery times around Christmas. People over 45 years of age are most suspicious about the reliability of delivery times. Indeed, many online purchasers say they make their online Christmas purchases at the beginning of December at the latest in order to be sure their purchases will arrive on time.

“Delivery times and shipping fees are important factors when consumers select a store and purchasing channel. Logistics must be functional especially around Christmas, but at this time there is also the most pressure. This is the competitive edge of Finnish brick-and-mortar stores when compared to foreign online stores,” says Kurjenoja.

Black Friday and subsequent Cyber Monday campaigns, which have made their way to Finland over the past few years, are mainly of interest to online store customers. The majority of consumers, however, had not yet taken advantage of these campaigns as of last year. That said, young people in particular say they follow campaign advertising – men more enthusiastically than women. A total of 45 per cent of people under 35 are hunting for Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales this year, while the figure for people over 35 is just 13 per cent.

People start planning early for Christmas, but do not make purchases until December

The survey also reveals that most of the Christmas presents purchased by Finns are still physical goods. People begin planning their Christmas gifts well before Christmas, particularly in families with children. Women do the most planning, with around 65 per cent of female respondents having planned their Christmas gifts before the beginning of December. This was the case for just over a third of men.

When it comes to men, 32 per cent do not begin planning their Christmas presents until the end of December, or do not plan their purchases at all. The corresponding figure for women is 17 per cent.

The majority of gifts, however, are not purchased until December. Of women who purchase Christmas gifts, 75 per cent purchase the majority of their gifts by mid-December, while this is the case for just over half of men.

However, not everyone buys presents. Just over 13 per cent stated that they did not purchase any gifts at all last year. This year the figure is lower, at 10 per cent. Unemployed people, retirees and people who live alone are most likely to refrain from purchasing Christmas presents.

Further information:

Jaana Kurjenoja, Chief Economist, Finnish Commerce Federation, tel. +358 (0)40 820 5378, jaana.kurjenoja(at)

The Finnish Commerce Federation represents commerce – the largest sector of economic life. Commerce employs around 300,000 people in Finland. The Federation has around 7,000 member companies and represents both retail and wholesale commerce in industry policy and labour market