A «Freedom Day» without impact? A glance at sales turnover in restaurants, hotels and the retail sector

14. March 2022 (in German / en Francais)

On Wednesday 16.2.2022, the Federal Council decided to repeal a large part of the existing Corona measures as of Thursday 17.02.2022. For example, masks were no longer mandatory in shopping stores. Similarly, access restrictions due to the 3G, 2G or 2G+ rule to cinemas, theaters and indoor areas of restaurants ceased to apply.

Transaction data from Monitoring Consumption Switzerland, provided by the payment service providers SIX and Wordline, show that the lifting of these restrictions had no immediate significant effect on restaurant, hotel, or retail sales. As Figures 1-3 illustrate, compared to 2019 and 2020 (prior to the pandemic in Europe), daily sales did not change in a systematic way during the week of February before and after February 17.

Figure 1-3: Comparison of daily sales in the Accommodation, Food & Beverage and Retail Goods categories before and after February 17.

Note: We deliberately exclude 2021 from this analysis due to the lockdown in February 2021.

Interestingly, however, in some sectors, sales already increased more strongly well before the measures were lifted, compared with the same period in 2019 or 2020. Figures 4-6 show that sales for both accommodation and restaurants have already increased at an above-average rate since the beginning of February, while retail sales have not. To allow for an accurate comparison of weekly averages before and after the measures were lifted, the sales plotted in each figure are averaged from Thursday to Wednesday because the measures were lifted as of Thursday Feb. 17, 2022.

Figure 4-6: Comparison of transaction volumes (weekly averages) in the Accommodation, Food & Beverage and Retail Goods categories before and after February 17.

How should these results be interpreted? One possible interpretation of the developments is that the milder courses of disease in the Omikron wave have already reduced consumers’ fears of infection when visiting a restaurant or hotel since the beginning of February. In any case, the access restrictions and their lifting in mid-February do not seem to have been a decisive factor in the development of restaurant and hotel sales.