Green Christmas boosts Swedish stores

Sweden's retailers are crediting the green Christmas with record high December sales.

Furniture giant Ikea and the Åhléns department store chain have reported busy holiday periods, although the lack of snow has been bad news for sports shops, with poor demand for skiing and ice skating equipment.

Retail research organization HUI stands by its prognosis that Swedes’ will have spent 52 billion kronor over the festive season.

“It could even be a little bit more,” said Henrik Öhman at HUI.

Ikea was one of the big winners:

“Sales have been fantastic, and we expect an increase in sales of up to ten percent,” said Tina Börjeman, spokeswoman for Ikea Sweden.

“The increase in sales of large goods such as kitchen units and wardrobes has been particularly high,” she said.

Ahléns, which operates 80 department stores across the country, also reported a good Christmas.

“We reached a new sales record on 22nd December. Fashion sales showed a particular increase,” said Bo Holmberg, Åhléns’ sales director, who did not want to put a precise figure on the sales increase.

Sales of flat-screen televisions were reported by electronics chains to have broken all records, with computers and computer games also selling like hot cakes.

“Sales in December have exceeded all expectations, and have been helped by the unusually warm weather,” said Johan Lundmark, sales director of Elgiganten.

“We expect a 60 percent increase in sales of flat-screen televisions in December,” he said.

Sales of DVDs and games consoles increased by around 70 percent at Elgiganten, the company estimates.

Competing electronics chain Siba reported a doubling in its sales of flat-screen televisions in December.

“Around eight out of ten TV sets sold in December were flat-screen,” said Sara Widman, spokeswoman for Siba. According to electronics industry organization Eletronikbranschens Kansli, a total of 650,000 televisions were sold last year, of which 500 were flat screen. The number of flat screen models sold is expected to increase to 650,000 this year.

The big losers in Christmas trade were sports shops, which plan major sales in the coming months.

“We have had a certain fall off in sales in December on goods related to snow and the cold. Cross country skis have been particularly affected,” said Sussi Calås-Jonsson, spokeswoman for Stadium.

Intersport saw sales of warm clothing and winter sports equipment fall by 10 to 15 percent.