The Finnish Commerce Federation predicts that the Christmas commerce will remain in the same level as last year, but the dropped prices will reduce the turnover. A clear change will be seen in the consumption of families with children when compared to previous years: fewer families are planning to save money in Christmas shopping. E-commerce as the means of Christmas shopping continues to increase its popularity.

The Finnish Commerce Federation estimates the Christmas sales of this year to reduce by the same amount as a year ago, i.e. 1.5%. However, the prognosis is not as grim as it sounds.

"In fact, the actual Christmas consumption has been decreasing since 2012, but the long inflation kept the sales seemingly on the increase. Now, the facts have been reversed; the reduction of Christmas sales is the result of dropped prices, and the decrease of the actual consumption has stopped," says Jaana Kurjenoja, Chief Economist of the Finnish Commerce Federation.

Last December, consumers purchased about EUR 4.6 billion worth of retail goods, VAT included. Over 770 million of this was the addition of the Christmas season, i.e. 20% on top of the average monthly sales. In the 2000s, the addition brought about by the Christmas season has, on average, increased the monthly sales by about 25%. The long recession and decrease in purchasing power is now evident in the fact that people do not spend as much money on Christmas as they used to.

Christmas is the most important season for retail trade, and its success is especially important to specialised commerce and department stores. In department stores, the Christmas season increases the sales of the entire December by almost 60%. The sales of some specialised commerce goods, such as books and jewellery products, increase by over 100% in December compared to the average monthly sales.

The success of the Christmas season is also vital to employment and to the opportunities of the youth to have job experience. This year, about 5,000 temporary Christmas workers will again be employed by the commerce industry. The number has not changed from last year. The working hours will increase about 7% per employer.

No large changes in consumer plans

The results of the consumer survey* realised by TNS Gallup for the Finnish Commerce Federation support the sales prognosis of Christmas. According to the survey, the spending of consumers will undergo no large changes compared to last year. Of the respondents, 60% said they plan to spend as much money on Christmas shopping as last year.

Families with children usually spend the most on Christmas, and there is a positive surprise to be seen in their consumption plans.

"Families with children are still more careful spenders than others, but the saving trend of the past few years is ending," says Kurjenoja.

Finns are already accustomed to shopping online, and there will be no large leaps to e-commerce. However, e-commerce is growing in popularity, while the preparedness to buy from abroad is also growing. As many as 60% of consumers who plan to increase their consumption from last Christmas will also purchase Christmas goods online.

"To make the Christmas season successful, Finnish commerce must attract these online consumers to their shops and online stores. The competition over online consumers is international," Kurjenoja points out.

Men under the age of 40 are the most eager to buy from abroad. Women over the age of 40, in turn, are the most loyal supporters of Finnish shops.
*TNS Gallup realised a consumer survey for the Finnish Commerce Federation with the use of an online-assisted respondent panel in October 2015. The survey reached 2,706 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 people in Finland. The Federation has around 7,000 member companies and represents both retail and wholesale commerce in industry policy and labour market lobbying. www.kauppa.fi

Appendices