Swiss households have saved an average of CHF2,000 ($2,060) more during the coronavirus crisis than in normal times. Although incomes have generally fallen, much less is being spent owing to store closures, according to a study by Credit Suisse.
The savings ratio – the proportion of income that a household puts aside after deducting all expenditures – almost doubled during the crisis, according to the bank’s report, published on Monday.
It said that before the crisis, the Swiss put around 13% of their gross income per household into the piggy bank – without compulsory savings such as pensions. This ratio is now likely to have risen to 22%.
This is because the possibilities to spend money are very limited. Normally around a third of consumer spending is on goods and services – options that are either unavailable or hard to obtain because of measures to contain the virus.
Even online shopping does not compensate for these losses, according to the authors of the study. At 15% the online share of overall retail trade, i.e. the food and non-food sector, has increased but remains comparatively low.
The study estimates consumer demand during the crisis to be around 20% lower overall than before. Calculated over a period of two months, this would mean total savings of CHF12 billion.
But while the crisis has affected savings, it has also affected incomes: a two-month lockdown will lead to a total loss of income of around CHF15.3 billion, according to the bank’s calculations. This would be caused, for example, by reduced wages due to short-time work, unemployment or other work restrictions.
Some of these losses are cushioned by government payments, such as short-time work and employment compensation or daily allowances. Credit Suisse expects government payments of around CHF11.6 billion over a two-month period of restrictions.