Holiday shopping set new record

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A consumer study done shortly before the Christmas holiday shopping season began found that many Norwegians had no specific gift wishes. More than NOK 50 billion worth of gifts ended up under Norwegian Christmas trees, though, setting a new record once again.

Christmas shopping just hasn't really taken off yet in Norway, with retails sales in Oslo running 1.8 percent behind last year at this time. PHOTO: Views and News

Christmas shopping ended with another record amount of total sales, but an industry expert noted that actual growth was modest. PHOTO: newsinenglish.no

The study, carried out by marketing analysis firm YouGov, found that fully 8 percent of Norwegian didn’t want anything for Christmas. Another 7 percent were uncertain, while 5 percent said they’d rather travel somewhere or do something fun than receive a material gift item.

“I have everything I need,” Ane Røed told news bureau NTB while she was browsing through a bookstore before Christmas. She was also weary of what she called “obligatory shopping” for gifts that others probably didn’t need to want either. Her response was typical of many of those questioned by YouGov, where especially older Norwegians had few if any gift wishes.

That didn’t stop Norwegians, though, from flocking to the stores in December and laying down an estimated NOK 50 billion during the holiday shopping season. Some retail industry players had feared a lacklustre season this year, given signs of an overall tightening of the Norwegian economy and more careful spending by consumers recently.

Instead, according to retail employers organization Virke, Christmas shopping broke old records once again. Credit card usage was high and retailers breathed a sigh of relief.

“It started out weak, possibly because of bad weather when folks in many places around the country were told to stay inside,” Bror Stende, director of Virke, told newspaper Dagens Næringsliv (DN). “But then things picked up. Sales jumped around 45 percent from the second to third week of December, and in total, we’re ahead of last year.”

Stende said the latest prognoses led to the NOK 50 billion figures, but he stressed that even though that’s a new record, “there’s little real growth.” He claimed consumers were “quite careful” this year, with total sales up just around a half-percentage point after adjustments for inflation and population growth.

newsinenglish.no/Nina Berglund