According to the predictions of the Finnish Commerce Federation, the value of Christmas commerce will remain at the same level as last year. December is the most important season of the year for retail. In addition to sales, Christmas also provides work to thousands of seasonal workers.

Despite the discouraging economic outlook and weak consumer confidence, people are still willing to invest in Christmas this year. The Finnish Commerce Federation estimates that December’s retail sales turnover will reach last year’s level. A year ago, sales grew by slightly more than one per cent. In the 2000s, the average growth of December’s retail sales turnover has been less than 4 per cent.

December is the most important season of the year for retail. Christmas commerce increases the entire month’s retail sales by more than 25 per cent compared to the average monthly sales. Department stores achieve growth of almost 60 per cent, and certain sectors of specialised commerce double their sales.

A successful Christmas season is extremely important for specialised commerce and department stores. For example, the Christmas sales of watches, jewellery and other precious items exceeds their average monthly sales by more than 130 per cent. As much as one-fifth of jewellers’ annual sales is generated during the Christmas season. Christmas is also an important time for bookshops, who double their book sales in December.

The Christmas season also generates work. Every year, some 5000–6000 young people work in the field of commerce during the Christmas season.

Online searches for Christmas presents

The approaching Christmas season also shows in online searches. According to Google’s statistics, the last quarter of the year is the most intense time when it comes to online searches for certain product groups. For example, the number of searches conducted between October and December for jewellery and other precious items stands 24 per cent above the average, and the corresponding figure for toys is 21 per cent.* Google reports that searches related to clothing are most common in November, and particularly searches for children’s winter wear have seen dramatic increase at the end of October.

It is still too early to say if online searches will be channelled into shopping in online or regular shops. According to a consumer survey** commissioned by the Finnish Commerce Federation, in October more than one in four consumers knows for sure that they are going to make Christmas purchases online, whereas almost half are still unable to say where they will be shopping. Consumers living in the Oulu region are most uncertain about their shopping channel. On the other hand, Lapland is the area where people are most certain about shopping online.

“Most consumers do not plan their Christmas spending very accurately in October or early November. However, it is alarming that many online shoppers are planning to make Christmas purchases in foreign online shops,” says Jaana Kurjenoja, Chief Economist of the Finnish Commerce Federation.

According to the consumer survey, 44 per cent of online shoppers buy from foreign online shops. Men under 40 years of age are most likely to turn to foreign online shops.

*This information is based on Google’s internal data.

**The consumer survey of the Finnish Commerce Federation was carried out in October by TNS Gallup through an Internet-assisted panel reaching 3,250 Finns aged 15 or older.

Further information:

Jaana Kurjenoja, Chief Economist of the Finnish Commerce Federation, jaana.kurjenoja(at)kauppa.fi, tel. +358 (0)9 1728 5134

The Finnish Commerce Federation represents commerce, the largest sector of economic life. Commerce employs around 300,000 persons in Finland. The Federation has around 7,000 member companies and represents both retail and wholesale commerce in industry politics and labour market lobbying. www.kauppa.fi