Switzerland: Retail sales record largest decline in over one year in March, but underlying momentum is solid
April 29, 2022
Retail sales dived 6.6% year-on-year in calendar-adjusted terms in March, which contrasted February's 12.5% increase. March's outturn marked the worst reading since February 2021. The reading largely reflected a plunge in food, beverages, and tobacco sales. In addition, culture and recreation goods sales lost pace. That said, the March figures were distorted by a very high base of comparison, as in March 2021 retail sales were boosted by the lifting of Covid-19 restrictions.
The month-on-month data—which was not affected by the extreme base effect—showed stronger dynamics as the impact of the pandemic faded. On a seasonally-adjusted monthly basis, retail sales rose at a faster rate of 0.8% in March (February: +0.1% mom). Meanwhile, the trend pointed down, with the annual average growth of retail sales coming in at 4.1% in March, down from February's 6.6%.
Author: Oliver Reynolds, Economist