Recent developments of consumption in Switzerland

October 20, 2020 (auch auf Deutsch)

Total domestic payment card transactions: Volume is 6% higher than at the beginning of the year

Graph 1. Transaction Volume (in M CHF) per week by payment cards in the year 2020
  • During the past 4 weeks (September 17 – October 14), the total volume of domestic payments by debit and credit card as well as cash withdrawals amounted to 2’084 M CHF per week. The total card transaction volume is thus 6% above the pre-COVID-19 level[1] (1,963 M CHF per week). The total level of payment card transactions in the past 4 weeks is in line with seasonal patterns in retail expenditures: For example, the retail trade index for Switzerland shows that in 2019 retail turnover was 4% higher in September / October than in January-March.[2]
  • Payments by debit cards at point-of-sale (PoS) reached 819 M CHF per week during the past 4 weeks and are therefore 18% above the pre-COVID-19 level (694 M CHF per week).
  • Cash withdrawals by debit card and bank card during the past 4 weeks are 741 M CHF per week and thus 5% below the pre-COVID-19 level (783 M CHF per week).
  • Payments by credit cards at domestic point-of-sale (PoS) reached 388 M CHF per week during the past 4 weeks and are therefore 16% above the pre-COVID-19 level (334 M CHF per week). Online payments by credit cards to domestic merchants reached 136 M CHF per week during the past 4 weeks and are therefore 11% below the pre-COVID-19 level (152 M CHF per week).

[1] Due to the absence of data for the year of 2019, we cannot compare payment card transactions to the previous year. Thus, we compare the most recent data to the pre-COVID-19 period of 2020, i.e., the 10 weeks from 02.01. – 11.03.2020.

[2] https://www.bfs.admin.ch/bfs/en/home/statistics/industry-services/production-orders-turnover/tertiary-sector.html

Debit card payments at point-of-sale: Increase compared to 2019 stronger in tourist regions and agglomeration.

Graph 2. Debit card transactions at PoS by merchant category and calendar week (in Million CHF)
Graph 3. Debit card transactions at PoS by Swiss card holders abroad by country and calendar week (in Million CHF)
  • A year-on-year comparison of debit card payments at PoS shows an increase of 21% for the past 4 calendar weeks (CW39-42).  This overall increase seems to be largely driven by a shift in payment behavior, with debit card payments replacing cash payments.[1]
  • During the calendar weeks CW39-42, the year-on-year increase in debit card PoS payments is stronger for merchants in the category of “Food & Supermarkets” (+28% compared to 2019) than in the category “Other retail”(+19% compared to 2019). The weekly development of payments in both categories reflects the seasonal pattern of 2019 (see Graph 2).
  • During the calendar weeks CW39-42, the year-on-year increase in debit card PoS payments is significantly higher in cantons with a strong domestic tourism sector (e.g. Graubünden: +38% compared to 2019) than in cantons with large cities (e.g. Zürich: +14% compared to 2019).  The year-on-year increase in debit card PoS payments is also higher in commuting zones (+26% compared to 2019) than in inner-city locations (+17% compared to 2019).
  • Spending by Swiss consumers in neighboring countries has diverged in the past 4 weeks. In Italy (+24%) debit card transaction volumes at point of sale are higher than in CW39-42 of 2019. Debit card purchases in Germany and Austria are similar to the levels of the previous year. By contrast debit card purchase in France are significantly below the 2019 level (-19%).

Credit card transactions: Cross-border payments higher during autumn holiday season.

Graph 4: Weekly cross-border credit card transactions by channel, 2020
  • Due to the autumn holiday season, credit card spending by Swiss consumers at foreign point of sales increased by 10% in the last 4 weeks (17 September – 14 October: 137M CHF per week) compared with the previous 4 weeks (20 August– 16 September: 125M CHF per week).
  • Cross-border online credit card spending by Swiss consumers increased by 7% in the last 4 weeks (17 September – 14 October: 150M CHF per week) compared with the previous 4 weeks (20 August– 16 September: 141M CHF per week).

[1] http://monitoringconsumption.org/Covid19_Cash

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