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Christmas shoppers target luxury goods

Christmas shoppers have developed an expensive taste this year

Caviar, perfume and expensive watches – credit cards are getting a record workout in the run-up to Christmas in Switzerland this year.

But luxury goods are to be found not only under Christmas trees; dining tables up and down the country will also be decked with vintage wines and exotic fruit.

"All the signs so far are clearly pointing towards a trend for quality products," said Madeleine Elmer from the Bern department store Loeb.

"Special perfume gift sets are just as in demand as top-end suitcases or expensive watches."

Many children will be unwrapping wooden toys this year, according to Elmer. "Top-quality wooden toys also have their price," she said.

The department store Manor agreed, adding that dolls and dolls clothes in particular were making a comeback.

Elle Steinbrecher from Manor said electronic entertainment systems were continuing to sell extremely well, with many games consoles and flat-screen televisions being squeezed under Swiss Christmas trees this year.

"We've noticed that our customers have a definite desire to celebrate a beautiful Christmas," Steinbrecher said.

Staff at Migros, Switzerland's largest retailer, were also celebrating. "People are once again spending more," said spokeswoman Monika Weibel.

This increased consumer spending was particularly strong in the sports and electronic departments, Weibel said, with a laser hair remover – yours for just SFr300 ($265) – being particularly popular.

Natural boost

In addition to the buoyant Swiss economy, Mother Nature has also done her part to get the Christmas shopping season off to a good start.

"The early snowfalls [in the middle of November] have resulted in our ski and sports departments taking record sales," said Robert Fieg at Zurich department store Jelmoli.

Ernst Pfenninger, a spokesman for upmarket department store Globus, said they had seen a trend towards luxury goods over the past few years – "but this year it is clearly stronger".

Globus reported particular demand for accessories, perfume and ready-to-wear clothing for men and women.

Pfenninger added that the tills were also working overtime in their delicatessen food hall, with vintage champagne, wine and caviar doing particularly well.

"Business this Christmas will be significantly better than 2006," he said.

swissinfo with agencies

Key facts

Economic outlook – comparison:
Seco: 2.6% (2007), 1.9% (2008)
KOF: 2.8% (2007), 1.9% (2008)
BAK: 2.7% (2007), 2.3% (2008)
SNB: 2.5% (2007), 2.0% (2008)
Credit Suisse: 2.5% (2007), 1.9% (2008)
UBS: 2.6% (2007), 2.3% (2008)

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