Swedish Christmas sales hit by snow chaos

Sales of toys, clothing and footwear have shrunk during this year's Christmas season, probably due to the intense wintry weather.

Swedish Christmas sales hit by snow chaos

However, booksellers have reported improved sales, both at retail outlets and online, perhaps because books complement inhospitable weather conditions.

It is difficult to determine whether retail on the whole has had a weaker holiday season or if it is just these particular sectors that are experiencing difficulty, said Jonas Arnberg of the Swedish Retail Institute (Handelns utredningsinstitut, HUI).

“I do not think there is reason to believe that there should be a particularly bad Christmas season, but one worries a little about these numbers,” he said.

For shoe stores, HUI did not not expect an increase when they made their Christmas sales forecast.

“It would be a miracle if shoe retailers did not fall into the red in December, partly because there was sales growth of nearly 50 percent in November in the shoe industry, so there are hardly any shoes left to sell. In addition, sales in December last year went very well. The comparisons are against a tough month,” said Arnberg.

HUI expected an increase in sales at clothing stores. However, for the clothing industry, a large volume of its sales take place in the days between Christmas and January 6th, when there are widespread sales across the country.

Consequently, there is still optimism that sales figures will near break even compared with last year, said Arnberg.

“However, it confirms that so far, it has not been full speed ahead with Christmas sales. It is important that they get good results this last week to achieve a new Christmas record,” he said.

On the other hand, at bookseller Akademibokhandeln, there is no sign that neither the cold nor the bomb attack in Stockholm has scared away customers. Christmas shopping at the chain’s stores has increased by about 5 percent compared with last year, according to press contact Louise Strandberg.

“People have risked going out despite the cold and bomb threats in Stockholm. They buy books anyway. We feel hopeful based on the daily reports we get from the stores,” said Strandberg.

At the same time, online bookstores continues to increase sales, although the increase appears to have slowed from rapid growth in recent years, according to Strandberg.

“Online shopping cuts away at retail outlet sales, even this year. It has grown quite rapidly in the past, but this year, the increase seems to have slowed down,” she said.

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Weather: Germany braces for heavy rainfall through weekend

Thanks to the weather front ‘Peggy’, which is moving west over Germany, the Bundesrepublik is seeing storms strike and saying goodbye to summer weather.

Weather: Germany braces for heavy rainfall through weekend

Rain and strong gusts of winds were expected throughout Germany on Thursday, with the western part of the country to see the heaviest downpour, according to the German Weather Service (DWD).

The wet weather will intensify in the afternoon, moving north to Berlin and Hamburg.

The mercury was set to stretch between 17C and 25C throughout the country, according to DWD, with northern areas experiencing the coolest temperatures.

‘Long-awaited rainfall’

The storms were welcomed in drought-hit parts of western Germany, which has seen record heat over the past few years. 

“Peggy is a heroine. She is bringing long-awaited rainfall in the dry west,” wrote DWD in its weather report Thursday. 

READ ALSO: More floods, droughts, and heatwaves: How climate change will impact Germany

Yet they also pose a risk for flooding, particularly in parts of northwestern Germany, where between 30 and 50 liters of water per square meter were predicted to fall throughout the day.

“Even if the rain is certainly more of a blessing than a curse for many, these amounts also carry the risk of flooding streets or filling up cellars,” wrote DWD.

Rain will continue around the country on Friday. In the east and southeast, the sun is expected to shine again by the late afternoon, with the mercury reaching around 21C. 

Storms stretch into weekend

Saturday will likely be the coldest day of the week with highs of only 17C in some places, particularly along the coasts. Yet eastern regions will see the mercury rise between 18C and 22C.

The DWD advised to “keep an umbrella around as a faithful companion” as the wet weather continues.

On Sunday, stormy weather will slowly calm down and the showers will retreat to the southeast parts of the country. The mercury is set to hover around a nationwide average of 22C and 23C.