2019 Christmas business beats all records thanks to e-commerce
An interim assessment of the Christmas business is possible after the second Advent weekend. Data analysis by the leading Swiss credit card company Swisscard shows: From the last week of November, including Black Friday, until the second Sunday in Advent, sales in the Swiss retail sector rose by 10% compared to the previous year. E-commerce even grew by 21% in the comparison period.
What is striking is that sales in the 2019 Christmas business have so far risen more strongly than last year. In 2018 there was an increase of "just" 6% compared to the previous year. Black Friday was the single day of the year with the highest sales to date in both periods.
The growth drivers: e-commerce, department stores, electronics retailers
The largest growth in sales is in e-commerce. E-commerce sales have grown by 21% in the 2019 Christmas period compared to the same period of the previous year. In 2018, the increase was as high as 26%. Stationary retail has grown at a much slower pace (plus 7%) in the current Christmas business. This segment stagnated with an increase of just 1% in 2018.
In the retailer categories, department stores and electronics retailers once again recorded strong increases compared to the same period of the previous year. Department stores have increased their sales by 8% in the 2019 Christmas season, with growth even reaching 16% in the previous year. From the end of November to the second Sunday in Advent, electronics retailers achieved sales growth of 19%. In 2018, growth even amounted to 28%.
The turnover per credit card used remained unchanged at CHF 165 per day in the period under review. During the Advent season, turnover per credit card is approximately 15% higher than it is during the rest of the year.
Significantly more customer service center inquiries in Horgen
Swisscard runs a large customer service center in Horgen (ZH). Over 300 employees support and assist customers round the clock, 365 days a year. The increased use of credit cards during the Advent season also leads to significantly higher customer service center inquiries. One example: On Black Friday 2019 (November 28) Swisscard received almost 6,000 customer inquiries – 20% to 40% more than on normal Fridays the rest of the year.
Swisscard is the first company in the industry to use artificial intelligence with automatic speech recognition to respond to customer concerns. This solution even understands Swiss German. Customers can describe their issue quickly and simply verbally. They are then directly connected to the employee who is best qualified to deal with the issue.
How Swisscard analyzed the data
Swisscard analyzed over 400 million data records from recent years for this assessment. Swisscard’s data analysis takes into account the turnover achieved with credit cards by private customers in Switzerland. The turnover from the last week of November including Black Friday (from November 22, 2019) up to and including the second Sunday in Advent (December 8, 2019) was analyzed. The turnover was compared with the same periods in 2018 (November 30 to December 9) and 2017 (December 1 to December 10). The turnover of retailers based in Switzerland was analyzed, limited to the retail category (excluding airlines, hotels, restaurants, etc.). Only customers who were already actively using their credit cards in 2017 and 2018 were considered.