According to the economists at Credit Suisse, the Swiss retail sector was able to increase its sales by an estimated 0.4 percent in 2018. Credit Suisse has presented their annual study Retail Outlook. According to this, retail sales in 2018 increased by an estimated 0.4 percent. In the food sector, the sales trend was more dynamic at +1.5%, with which the food retail trade continued to depend on the non-food sector after 2017.
According to Credit Suisse, competition for the local retail trade is becoming increasingly international. There are 3 types of foreign competition, it stated. First, these are foreign providers that have opened branches in Switzerland. This development was particularly pronounced before 2010 and was largely due to the market entries of the two food discounters Aldi and Lidl. The structural change triggered by them was and is clearly felt in the food retail trade.
Secondly, the competition in the retail trade also became more international due to the repeated appreciation of the Swiss franc. The consequence of this was that purchases in neighboring countries were priced much more competitively. This development began between 2010 and 2011 and then happened again in 2015, before stabilising at a high level over the past two years.
Thirdly, it is not primarily physical market entries by foreign competitors or Swiss shopping tourists that are responsible for intensifying competition; it its foreign online trade. With the advent of online commerce, the country's borders have blurred and the reach of internet providers has increased.
Forecast: economic growth will cool down
According to economists' forecasts, the economy is expected to provide similarly strong impulses to retailers in 2019 as they did last year. Overall, economic growth is expected to cool down somewhat, but this will most likely be due to lower foreign trade activity and less to domestic demand. Purchasing power is expected to pick up again thanks to stronger wages and slightly lower inflation.