Have you completed your Christmas shopping? With the festival just around the corner, there is Yuletide spirit in the air. However, this year’s celebrations will be different due to the pandemic.
Norway’s Prime Minister Erna Solberg set out clear expectations earlier this year by noting that Christmas celebrations in 2020 would be completely different than usual.
Like a number of other European nations, Norway is currently going through the second wave of the coronavirus outbreak.
Following a series of recent announcements, we now have a much better idea of exactly how different this festive season in Norway will be.
Norway’s Christmas shopping experience in corona times
Unlike previous years, there will be no weekend shopping trips to Copenhagen or London for Norwegians residents.
Furthermore, office and house parties will be subject to restrictions.
However, most of the churches will remain open and restrictions will be eased for up to two days over the festive period.
Industry experts believe that the pandemic has so far failed to impact the Christmas shopping spirit for Norwegians.
In an interview with Norway Today, Harald Jachwitz Andersen, Director of Commerce at Virke, the enterprise federation of Norway, and Oslo Handelsstands Forening spokesperson Vibeke Hoff Norbye said that Norwegian retail is at an all-time high when it comes to Christmas shopping due to closed borders.
Retailers and customers are focusing on keeping social distance and good hygiene routines.
“We are expecting high growth in retail trade for Christmas this year. According to our forecasts, Norwegians will shop for NOK 117 billion.
“We are expecting every Norwegian to spend an average of NOK 12,000, which is a growth of approximately 4,8% for the same period last year.
“Due to the COVID-19 situation, shopping centers, shops, e-commerce, trade associations, and the authorities have been encouraging people to start Christmas shopping early this year and spread it over a longer period,” Norbye said.
When asked how the customers are reacting to this “new normal” setup of shopping, Andersen said:
“Our forecast for this year’s Christmas shopping, for November and December combined, expects a growth of 10.5%, to a total shopping of NOK 120 billion.
“The preliminary results for the three first weeks of November show a growth of 8% in stores on shopping centers.”
Rise in e-commerce
Andersen said that the trend of e-commerce increasing more than retail at large has continued during the pandemic.
“Convenience is still king. Respecting infection prevention guidelines during the pandemic in an easy way has become an important part of convenience.
“Traders and shopkeepers are making it easy for customers to follow infection prevention rules by informing them about the guidelines, having disinfectant in their shops, and making it possible to keep social distance when shopping,” he explained.
Preliminary figures related to e-commerce show growth of more than 100% during Black Week compared to last year.
People have spent far more money in online stores and especially on electronics, furniture and furnishings, clothing, sports and leisure, books, groceries, digital services, and perfumes.
What are customers shopping for across Norway this Christmas?
According to experts at Virke, industries which are experiencing the greatest growth are those that sell items we put in our homes or in our bodies.
Shoes, clothes, and cosmetics are experiencing strong sales, though grocery and household items have already seen a massive spike in demand.
Electronics, equipment for home-gyms, leisure equipment, and eatable/drinkable gifts are also popular consumer choices this Christmas.
“When the pandemic is over, our society and borders can open once again, and this temporary peak will dissipate.
“However, on December 1, the Norwegian government and the Progress Party (FRP) announced that they are cutting taxes on sugar, soda, chocolate, alcohol, and tobacco.
“This will stimulate Norwegians to do more of their shopping in Norway than across the border, compared to before the pandemic,” Andersen added.
Reports and analyses from the 190 largest shopping centers show that people have started their Christmas shopping early this year.
Sources in the trade association said that, while the sales on Black Friday were reduced by about 30% compared to last year, the sales during Black Week increased by about 33% compared to Black Week of last year.
Experts believe that store location and the goods being sold lead to differences in revenue in corona times.
“Shops in the city center have had a rough time with few customers and a sharp reduction in turnover.
“Being isolated and working from home, people seem to be more concerned with their homes and what they eat and drink.
“Thus, stores in the food and beverage categories and the house and home categories have experienced the strongest increase in sales,” Norbye said.
In Norway, a lot of people have also become more interested in outdoor life, which has led to a long-awaited upswing in the sports industry.
On the other hand, clothes, shoes, bags, and fashion are the industries that have suffered the most. Experts believe that these industries will see a strong recovery when COVID-19 is defeated and people get back to normal social lives.
In case you haven’t started your Christmas shopping yet, you should probably hurry up.
Source: Norway Today