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Weak August

Zurich/Basel Media Releases Switzerland


The UBS consumption indicator fell significantly in August. Even the sustained rise in new car registrations was unable to counter the negative trend.

Zurich/Basel, 25 September 2012 – The UBS consumption indicator posted a substantial fall in August, from 1.48 to 1.03 points. Only new car registrations saw an increase, while the other sub-indicators were in decline.

The strong Swiss franc and the recession in Europe made themselves strongly felt in terms of overnight stays at hotels. While the number of stays by Swiss citizens during the summer was 5% lower than last year, overnight stays by foreign tourists fell by as much as 7%. The string of bad economic news from Europe in recent months may also have been responsible for the drop in the third-quarter consumer sentiment index prepared by the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO). Finally, retailers reported a dip in business in August. The slight increase in the number of new car registrations, up only 0.4% from a year ago, could not compensate for the negative trends, resulting in the significant fall in the consumption indicator.

SECO's new estimates show that private consumption in the first half of the year was up about 2.5% against the same period last year. This is significantly higher than the figure suggested by the UBS consumption indicator. Due to the weak economic figures in the second quarter and the global economic downturn, UBS has slightly reduced its forecast for economic growth this year from 1.3% to 1.1%. Despite the current fall in the consumption indicator, private consumption is likely to continue to grow robustly and remain a key pillar of the economy.

How the UBS Consumption Indicator is calculated

The UBS Consumption Indicator signals private consumption trends in Switzerland with a lead time of about three months on the official figures. At roughly 60%, private consumption is by far the most important component of Swiss GDP. UBS calculates this leading indicator from five consumer-related parameters: new car registrations, business activity in the retail sector, the number of domestic overnight hotel stays by Swiss residents, the consumer sentiment index, and credit card transactions made via UBS at points of sale in Switzerland. With the exception of the consumer sentiment index, all of this data is available monthly.


Media contact

Daniel Kalt, UBS Chief Economist Switzerland
Tel. +41 44 234 25 60,

Caesar Lack, UBS CIO Wealth Management Research
Tel. +41 44 234 44 13,

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