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Major economic differences between activities in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak

| Press releases

The coronavirus pandemic is leading to huge concern about the Swedish economy. Individual industries decreased significantly in March – but total business sales increased by 1 percent compared with the same month a year ago, according to preliminary statistics based on the VAT Register.

In view of the great interest in the impact of the coronavirus crisis on the Swedish economy, Statistics Sweden is publishing preliminary sales statistics for the first quarter of 2020. The publication is separate from the ordinary production and is classified as “experimental” statistics.

The figures show that sales in the goods industries increased by 1 percent in March, while sales of services increased by 2 percent.
“Considering the media coverage, this change is greater than expected. However, there are major differences between different industries,” says Daniel Lennartsson, statistician at Statistics Sweden.

Travel agency sales dropped by 60 percent in March, compared with March in 2019. Moreover, hotels and restaurants decreased sharply, by 37 percent and 23 percent respectively. The airline industry fell by 49 percent in March.

At the same time, other industries increased. The manufacturing industry rose by 4 percent in March, and retail sales for consumables increased by 9 percent.

Table 1 Sales in current prices compared with the same period last year

2020 (%)
First quarter
2020 (%)
Goods industries 1 ‑1
 Manufacturing industry 4 2
Services 2 3
 Hotels -37 ‑10
 Restaurant services -23 ‑4
 Retail sales for consumables 9 8
 Retail sales for durables 0 5
 Airline industry -49 ‑19
 Public transport -8 0
 Taxi -21 ‑8
 Travel agencies -60 ‑16
 Culture -21 ‑4
Total business activities 1 2

Facts: Experimental, preliminary sales statistics

These statistics were produced to provide a current picture of the economic situation in industry. The statistics are based on VAT data, which for March was supplemented with data from the Production Value Index (PVI).
For the first quarter, there was a weighted response rate of 84 percent. For March, the corresponding figure was 69 percent.
The quality of the statistics is considered to be high in total industries, as well as the sub-aggregates goods industries and services. Uncertainty is greater in individual industries, but the figures nonetheless point to an expected development. In some industries, uncertainty is greater.
These statistics are neither fixed price nor calendar adjusted.
In March, calendar adjustment would have shown lower sales compared with a year ago.

Read more articles on about the impact of the coronavirus outbreak on society:


Johannes Cleris, Press officer

+46 72 084 40 83

Daniel Lennartsson

+46 10 479 64 29