People have started decorating and baking earlier than in previous years, marking a change in Christmas traditions.
Christmas sales are up compared to last year, despite people’s real incomes dropping. Sales on the third weekend of Advent are 10 to 20 percent higher, and some shops report a similar increase in customers. Sales had dipped in 2020 and 2021 due to pandemic restrictions, which restricted holiday parties and visiting, causing people to buy fewer gifts and decorations.
The most popular purchases this holiday season are toys, electronics, and clothes. There is also a high demand for Christmas decorations and food, including supplies for baking cookies, according to information from retailers provided to ČTK.
Higher sales are due in part to higher prices. Consumer prices increased by 16.2 percent in November compared to last year, according to the Czech Statistical Office (ČSÚ), with food rising by 27.1 percent. Home bakers will be hit hardest, as main ingredients went up sharply. Average wages in the third quarter of 2022 increased by only 6.1 percent.
INCREASED COST OF BAKING COOKIES
- Sugar: up 109 percent
- Eggs: up 71.9 percent
- Milk: up 52.5 percent
- Flour: up 48.3 percent
- Oils and fats: up 40.8 percent
Toys and electronics for kids, warm clothes for adults
Retail chain Globus said that this last weekend customers mainly purchased holiday decorations. Children’s gifts were dominated by electronics such as tablets or designer headphones, as well as Lego sets, while the gifts for the adults were more practical, such as fleece pajamas, thermal socks, microplush bed linen, or designer clothes and shoes.
Among food items, great demand fell on smoked meats, sausages, as well as dough for baking, sweets, and Christmas cakes.
Sweden-based retailer Ikea recorded the highest number of Advent visitors to its four domestic department stores, with almost 39,000 people visiting them on Saturday. Total sales this weekend are about 10 percent higher than in the same period last year.
“The greatest interest remains in the seasonal range, such as Christmas decorations, lighting, and candles, as well as Swedish food products. We are registering a year-on-year increase in sales of almost 20 percent for these. Interest in Christmas trees also continues to rise,” Ikea spokesman Petr Šašek told ČTK. He added that from the regular assortment of goods, there was more interest in kitchen items.
The number of customers is also growing in shopping centers. According to preliminary estimates, the number of customers and sales increased by 20 percent year on year at the Freeport Fashion Outlet in Hatě u Znojmo near the Austrian border. This was close to the 2019 level. The mall sells older collections at lower prices.
“For many types of goods, such as sportswear, customers like to save money and apparently don’t care if they have the most up-to-date model,” shopping center director Jan Procházka said.
Online sales remain strong
Online sales are also up. Mall.cz said traffic to their website has increased and customers who leave their preparations to the last minute have started buying gifts; the latter usually opt for proven classics.
These include toys, led by Lego kits, followed by mobile phones and televisions, vacuum cleaners, and laptops. Interest in portable electronics and wireless headphones is also growing. Sales of Christmas decorations and lighting increased.
Mall.cz spokeswoman Pavla Hobíková said this shows that more and more Czechs decorate the Christmas tree before the holidays and do not wait until Dec. 24, which used to be the tradition.