New figures from the index of wholesale and retail trade showed an increase in the seasonal adjusted volume of the retail sector in April. The pandemic and regulations imposed to limit infections have contributed to Norwegians changing their consumption pattern in the direction of spending less on services, and more on retail goods. These changes in the shopping pattern of the Norwegian people have made the seasonally adjusted figures more volatile.

March 2020 and the subsequent months are specified as outliers in the seasonal adjustment routine. Hence, the trend figures for the latest months are not included in the figure.

Decline for grocery stores

Many of the retail sectors experienced an increase in the seasonally adjusted volume in April, but grocery stores experienced a 1.4 percent decline. Grocery stores were thus the largest contribution to decline in the volume of retail sales.

On the other hand clothing stores and e-commerce experienced an increase in the seasonally adjusted volume, and were the largest positive contributions to the increase in the index of retail sales. E-commerce had an 8.1 percent increase in the seasonally adjusted volume from March to April 2021.

The scope of the statistics is broadened from covering only NACE division 47 Retail trade, except of motor vehicles and motorcycles to also covering NACE division 45 Wholesale and retail trade and repair of motor vehicles and motorcycles and NACE division 46 Wholesale trade, except of motor vehicles and motorcycles. Thus, the new statistics covers the whole section G Wholesale and retail trade; repair of motor vehicles and motorcycles. In this first release value indices are published for 45 and 46, but in the coming months volume indices and seasonally adjusted figures will also be published for these divisions.]

Thursday 12th of March 2020 the Norwegian government introduced actions against the spreading of the Corona-virus in Norway. This has led to a change in the shopping pattern since March compared to what we usually observe. The seasonal adjustment routine during the Corona- crisis is done in such a way that the figures from the start of and during the crisis (from March), are not included in the calculation of the seasonal pattern. Technically, in the seasonal adjustment routine, this is done by specifying March and following months as outliers.

This means that the usual trend figures will not be calculated, and instead the trend and seasonal adjusted figures will follow each other. One important exception is the last observation, where the trend figure which is calculated in the seasonal adjusted routine will only be a projected value and the last observation is therefore not included. The trend figures from March 2020 and the following moths will therefore be difficult to interpret.

The seasonal adjustment routine of Statistics Norway is in line with the recommendations of Eurostat.

Due to Easter, it is difficult to compare the sales index for March and April with the corresponding months in 2020. The seasonally-adjusted index takes the Easter holidays in March or April into account, but it is difficult to correct for Easter shopping. Therefore, the seasonally-adjusted indices for March and April are more uncertain than the seasonally-adjusted indices for the other months.

The sector 47 Retail trade, except of motor vehicles and motorcycles from the index of wholesale and retail trade is one of the central sources in the calculation of the index of household consumption of goods (VKI). There are still usually differences in the development of these two indices, and there are several reasons for this. VKI covers the households’ consumption of electricity and heating fuel, and the purchases of vehicles. This is not included in what is covered in the sector 47 Retail trade, except of motor vehicles and motorcycles in the index of wholesale and retail trade. The two indices are also weighted differently. The difference in weighting has a particular big effect when there are large differences between the different industries of the retail sector. The reason behind the difference in weighting between the index of wholesale and retail trade and VKI is that VKI is a measure of the household consumption of goods, while what is covered in the retail sector in the index of wholesale and retail trade describes the development in the retail trade sector.