Swedish shoppers undeterred by world crisis

Swedes are still expected to spend more than last year during the Christmas period despite the global financial crisis, though the increase will be less than usual, a trade group said on Saturday.

“We expect that all sales for Christmas this December will attain 61 billion kronor” ($7.2 billion), Margareta Ternell of the Swedish Retail Institute (HUI) said.

“It’s an increase of 2.5 per cent compared to last year, including inflation.”

However she noted that the last decade had seen an annual increase in seasonal spending of between five and six percent.

“This year we just see an increase of two-and-a-half percent because of the economic crisis,” she said. “We don’t think people will spend as much money as they did the last 10 years.”

Ternell also said that shoppers were busier in Stockholm and the southern city of Malmö, while in Gothenburg, the headquarters of the vulnerable automotive industry, people seemed to be tightening their belts.

Some retailers had also launched their traditional post-Christmas sales early this year for fear of being left with unsold stock.

Sweden slipped into recession in the third quarter as household consumption shrank for the first time since 2001 and industry production declined.

In neighbouring Finland, the HUI’s equivalent also predicted that shoppers would be spending more, but attributed it to rises in the cost of food.