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Shoppers prove to be in merry mood

Staff at Swiss shops had their work cut out for them

(Keystone)

Luxury goods were high on consumers gift lists this Christmas, according to a survey of Swiss shops.

Most of the retailers questioned by the news agency, Associated Press, said sales were better than in 2005.

A spokesman for the department store chain, Globus, said turnover was up by six per cent in November and December compared with the same period last year.

He said fashion accessories such as handbags and jewellery were particularly popular, as were perfume and delicacies. "Everything of quality and that is in fashion sold very well," Ernst Pfenninger said.

"People were willing to spend money again," confirmed Urs Jordi of the number two retailer, Coop, which saw strong demand for luxury items and premium foods.

Electronic appliances including coffee machines were also top of the Christmas gift list for adults, while children were spoiled with non-electronic toys such as Lego and Playmobil sets.

The Swiss association of jewellers and specialty watch shops described business in December as very good, particularly in boutiques in Zurich and Geneva. Top-of-the-line watches and jewellery sold much better than in the previous year, the association said.

It said watches were in greater demand than jewellery, but when it came to jewellery, well-known brands did much better than no-name products.

Peak sales

Coop, Globus and the leading Swiss retailer, Migros, all said sales reached their peak on December 23.

A Migros spokesman put the positive result down to the strong Swiss economy, good weather and pent-up demand. Consumers decided it was the right time to purchase items, such as flat-screen televisions and furniture, they had put off buying in the past, said Thomas Bornhauser.

As proof, some of the Migros shops increased turnover by between 50 and 100 per cent on the second last Sunday before Christmas compared with the same Sunday in 2005.

Shoppers looking for bargains among the post-Christmas sales may be spoilt for choice with marked-down ski gear, which did not sell like hot cakes due to the unseasonably warm autumn, and mild start to the winter.

swissinfo with agencies

Consumer index

The November consumer index of the leading Swiss bank, UBS, was 1.89, unchanged from the previous month.

However, the bank said it was still much above the long-term average of 1.49.

In a statement on Wednesday, UBS said it expected good consumer data for December as well, and private consumption to remain a key factor spurring economic growth.

The bank said besides confidence in the future and a positive job market, consumers were buoyed by expected pay rises in 2007.

It said it expected households to increase spending next year by 2%.

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