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Strong franc Swiss to spend ‘less’ this Christmas

People enjoy the festive atmosphere of, for example, Christmas markets like this one in Willisau in central Switzerland, when doing their pre-Christmas shopping


The Swiss will spend 5% less on Christmas presents this year, a survey has found. And they prefer going out and buying gifts rather than ordering them online.

The run-up to Christmas has already started in Swiss shops, with Christmas items and decorations on sale, in some places at least, since the end of October.

With this in mind, the Christmas presents 2015 – Switzerland”external link survey, carried out for international professional services firm EY (Ernst & Young), asked 500 people about their Christmas budgets for 2015. It found that the average amount people intended to spend was CHF275, down from CHF289 last year. This is a drop of 5%.

Only half of consumers will spend more than CHF200, this was 61% last year.

A quarter say they will spend a maximum of CHF100, according to the results published on Thursday.

The survey found that people under 55 intended to spend 10% less on gifts, while those aged 56-65 are would be prepared to spend more.

Dampened consumer sentiment

EY said in a statementexternal link that although the strong franc had not had such a severe effect as expected, Christmas budgets were feeling the squeeze.

“The Christmas present budget among Swiss consumers has decreased in nearly every population group,” said Martin Gröli, head of Retail & Consumer Products at EY Switzerland. “The cautious assessments about the future economic situation and many austerity plans announced by large companies have affected consumer sentiment and have encouraged consumers to be more prudent.”

The most popular gifts were found to be gift vouchers, cash and books. Price is a major driver, as is quality and functionality. The origin of gifts and environmental considerations were also found to be more important this year.

But despite all its advantages, online shopping is less popular among Swiss shoppers this year, with 86% prefer to go into retailers. In 2014, this was 60%. This bucks the general trend towards internet purchases found during the rest of the year, said Gröli.

“People consider Christmas shopping a special event,” commented Gröli. “It’s not about buying a gift as quickly and efficiently as possible, but the whole experience during shopping.”

“The decorations and lights in city centres, the Christmas spicy scents and festive music allows us to forget the packed streets.”

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