Swedes set for ‘record’ holiday shopping spree

Swedes set for 'record' holiday shopping spree
Swedish retailers can expect another record-setting Christmas shopping season this year, according to a new report, which finds Swedes are ready to spend despite economic uncertainty in the rest of Europe.

“A record is the most likely scenario, but there are always reasons to be humble,” Jonas Arnberg, head of retail consulting at Swedish retail industry research institute HUI Research, said in a statement.

According to the annual holiday shopping forecast published on Thursday by HUI Research, Swedes will spend 66 billion kronor ($9.9 billion) in December, a 1.5 percent increase compared with last year.

The group characterized Swedish retail spending as “surprisingly positive” so far this year, with expected declines failing to materialize.

While the institute acknowledged that economic developments outside of Sweden will have an impact on how much Swedes shell out during the Christmas season, low interest rates, higher salaries, and a strong krona have combined to provide Swedes with solid purchasing power heading into the end of the year.

Looking at the year as a whole, spending on sports and recreation is expected to be especially robust for 2012, according to the institute, which is jointly owned by the Swedish Trade Federation (Svensk Handel) and the Swedish Hotel and Restaurant Association (Sveriges Hotell- och Restaurangföretagare, SHR).

However, the predicted 8 percent growth in sports and recreation spending is highly contingent on a snow-filled December, the institute warned.

Book sales, meanwhile, are expected to remain flat for 2012, a result which can nevertheless be seen as an improvement after two years of negative growth.

Swedes are also increasingly inclined to purchase goods online, according to HUI Research, which found that internet sales increased 13 percent in the first six months of 2012, a trend expected to continue through the rest of the year.

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