New figures from the Index of wholesale and retail trade showed a decrease in the seasonally adjusted volume of the retail sector in August. 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. As the pandemic gradually is being defeated these changes are expected to go back to normal.

Figure 1. Retail sales volume index, seasonally adjusted and trend. 2015=100


Decrease for grocery stores

The largest contribution to the decrease in the seasonally adjusted volume in August came from grocery stores. The seasonally adjusted volume for grocery stores declined by 5,8 percent from July to August. Gas stations and stores selling sporting equipment also contributed to the decline.

On the other hand, clothing stores experienced an increase in the seasonally adjusted volume which dampened the overall decline.

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.

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.

The unadjusted value indices for June and July 2021 have been revised due to corrections in the data editing for one of the larger chain stores. This entails an adjustment of the value indices for sectors 46.3 (Wholesale of food, beverages and tobacco) and 46.4 (Wholesale of household goods).