Swiss Retail Sales Increase, Adjusted Sales Plunged
Swiss March retail sales rose 1.2% y/y in real terms, after a 3.8% y/y drop in February. However, Swiss retail sales are notoriously volatile and the 3m y/y trend rate still slipped to -0.5% from +0.3%. When adjusted for the number of shopping days, however, sales fell by a very sharp 6.6% y/y, due to the timing of Easter, which meant this year had two more working days in March. The figure follows a 0.2% y/y increase in February and the 3m y/y rate also slumped to -1.7% in March, from 0.3%. Overall, data suggest that the retail sector, although having held up relatively well in 2008, is now deteriorating, although the timing of Easter is distorting both March and April figures. We are likely to see weaker retail sales figures ahead as consumer demand falters on the back of tight credit, weaker confidence and rising unemployment, which will help to drag overall growth down.