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Mobile phones are top Christmas sellers

Telecommunication gadgets such as mobile phones are among this year’s top sellers in Switzerland, where consumer confidence is up and people are again spending more on Christmas presents and the big millennium parties.

Telecommunication gadgets such as mobile phones are among this year’s top sellers in Switzerland, where consumer confidence is up and people are again spending more on Christmas presents and the big millennium parties.

“I get the impression that everybody wants to walk around with two cell phones,” says Thierry Rueff, merchandising chief at Manor department store, where cell phones are the No. 1 seller.

Mediamarkt’s Michel Esseiva says: “A husband’s typical Christmas present for his wife this year is a feminine-design mobile phone.”

The craze has also affected children: Toy retailer “Toys ‘R’ Us” says that play mobile phones are the hottest item this Christmas. Other favourite toys on kids’ wish lists are game boys, computer-controlled Lego blocks, and video and computer games.

Department and retail stores say that anything “millennium” is selling like hot cakes, too.

“Sales of millennium articles and goods have been well beyond our expectations,” commented a spokeswoman for Loeb, one of the major department stores in the Swiss capital, Berne.

Anything with a “2000” imprint sells, with customer favourites ranging from shower curtains to paper cups. “People are getting ready for their millennium parties,” said Loeb’s Assistant-Manager Madeleine Elmer.

Business analysts note that consumer confidence is clearly on the rise in Switzerland, where the economy has picked up, unemployment is in decline and job prospects are considered good.

Although high-tech gadgets are selling well this season, there is no boom in purchases via the Internet.

Christiane Wanner, spokeswoman for Le-Shop, which was one of Switzerland’s first virtual malls, says this is not surprising as online orders have seen monthly increases of 20 percent since August 1998.

But Le-Shop and Switzerland’s biggest retail chain Migros agree that people are clearly spending more in their online purchases because of Christmas and New Year festivities. Champagne, smoked salmon and delicatessen are the main sellers for Migros, which points out that online purchases account for less than 1 percent of its sales.

From staff and wire reports.

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