Swiss saved much less money in second lockdown

"Two waters, please": Compared with the end of the first lockdown, the Swiss will have less spare cash to spend in restaurants and cafés, for example, second time around Keystone / Urs Flueeler

Swiss households saved an average of CHF880 ($950) in the second lockdown, compared with around CHF3,000 in the first lockdown in spring 2020.

This content was published on March 16, 2021 - 12:15

“The forced pause in consumption with closed restaurants and shops led the average household to put aside an additional CHF3,000 during the first lockdown,” said Credit Suisse economist Claude Maurer, co-author of Monitor Switzerland, which was published on Tuesday.

Normally Swiss people voluntarily put aside around 15% of their income on average, he said. “During the first lockdown it was 30% at times,” Maurer said.

The country’s four million households would have saved an additional CHF12 billion in the three months of the lockdown, he explained. It helped that many incomes fell less sharply than consumption thanks to unemployment insurance payments.

Consumers then quickly spent the money they had saved when stores and restaurants re-opened in summer, he said. “We saw a marked increase in economic activity after the end of the lockdown.”

Tough for restaurants and hotels

The picture was very different in the second wave. Here, according to Credit Suisse, the additional amount saved was only around CHF880 per household due to the less restrictive measures.

Households therefore have less spare cash to spend in shops than after the first lockdown, said Maurer. He pointed out that in concrete terms there was currently around CHF3.4 billion in Swiss bank accounts waiting to be spent as soon as restaurants re-open.

However, restaurants in particular will probably struggle with the consequences of the closures for some time, he added. “According to our calculations, a restaurant will need to have been open for about 14 weeks to make up for one week of lockdown.”

Customers would only make up for missed restaurant visits to a limited extent and would still not visit a restaurant every day after re-opening, he said.

Things also look bad for hotels, Maurer warned. Although most stayed open during the lockdown, guests still stayed away. And in the summer of 2021, when the Swiss may be allowed to travel to Mallorca again, those who were forced to spend their holidays in Switzerland in the winter might start going abroad.

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