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ECONOMY

Bumper year for eating out in Swedish cafes

Fresh figures have shown that Swedes had healthy appetites in 2014, marking a 4 percent increase in income for the restaurant industry.

Bumper year for eating out in Swedish cafes
Swedes enjoy a "fika" break in a Stockholm cafe. Photo: TT
The period between January and November last year saw a 4.2 percent increase in income for the restaurant industry, compared to the same period in 2013. 
 
Total turnover ended up at 110.5 billion kronor ($13.9 billion), showed preliminary figures from Visita, a trade and employers' organization for the Swedish tourism industry.
 
 
Despite what many tourists would argue are exorbitant prices for a cup of coffee (typically around 35 kronor or $4.5), cafes saw a particularly big leap in total sales volume, recording an 8 percent jump nationwide during the period. The figures have been adjusted for price developments.
 
Coffee culture in Sweden (better known as "fika" to the Swedes) is as strong as ever. US coffee chain Starbucks has started to branch out in Stockholm, with stores in the central station and Södermalm joining the game over the past eighteen months.
 
The fast food industry, meanwhile, reported an increase of 2 percent. 
 
Visita added that there were an additional 4,000 people hired in 2014 within the industry in full-time positions.

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ECONOMY

Swedish bank’s IT fault puts customer accounts in the red

A technical problem at Sweden's Swedbank on Thursday night gave customers a nasty surprise, with their account balances inexplicably going negative, payments impossible, and Swish payments no longer working.

Swedish bank's IT fault puts customer accounts in the red

By 11.30pm, more than 2,000 Swedbank customers had reported the fault to the site Downdetector, and the problem was still not solved by 17.00pm on Friday. 

“We have an ongoing IT disruption where certain customers see an incorrect balance on their accounts,” a message on the bank’s app read. “The reason is a planned update to our internal systems which went wrong. We apologise, of course, for that and are working as quickly as possible to fix the problem.” 

The Swish payment service has also been affected, with the service, which is owned collectively by Swedish banks, reporting on its site that there was a “technical disruption at Swedbank and Sparbank which might affect Swish payments from these banks”. 

Some Swedbank customers posted their negative account balances on Twitter, expressing shock at the incorrect figures. 

The disruption comes at the worst possible time for many Swedes. Many people are paid on the 25th of the month, meaning this Friday marks the start of the payday weekend. Many will have also scheduled their bill payments for this Friday. 

Marko Saric from Malmö saw his account balance drop by 1.2 million kronor, going half a million kronor into the red. 

“It’s just totally crazy,” he told SVT. “We were going to go out and shop for the weekend. It’s lovely weather and the kids want to go out, but we can’t use our card. We’ve got no cash. Everything is in the bank.” 

“You’re just completely blocked. Colleagues need to make emergency food parcels for you. It’s just crazy that something like this should happen.” 

In its statement, the bank assured customers that their money was “secure”, and that the bank still had the correct information on what their account balance should be. 

“Customers who feel that they have suffered economic damage as a result of the disruption should contact the bank,” the message said.

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