Swiss online commerce in consumer goods triples its revenue and emerges as a winner from the crisis.

Datatrans and the University of Applied Sciences and Arts Northwestern Switzerland summarise the first results of their Commerce Report Switzerland 2021 in a sentiment barometer.

Zurich, 17 June 2021
COVID-19 sent the consumer goods commerce on a roller coaster in 2020: In addition to challenges such as lockdown and contact restrictions, the sector benefited from an increased willingness to spend and a decline in shopping tourism. The food retail sector as well as online commerce in consumer goods emerge as winners from the crisis.

The Swiss retail sector closed 2020 with an increase in sales of 2.2 percent, thereby achieving a better result than in previous years. The fact that the exceptional situation could be mastered so well is largely thanks to the employees. According to the survey, they were willing to take on new tasks from one day to the next, often doing the right thing in new situations and learning quickly. Often the potential of employees is mobilised especially when the situation becomes really difficult», explains study publisher Prof Ralf Wölfle. «Thanks to the use of competent teams, Swiss commerce, both stationary and online, has proven to be extremely agile».

Home as the new centre of life
Contact restrictions, closed schools and the obligation to work from home have made the home the new centre of life. The home electronics as well as home and living sectors experienced a veritable boom. People have also rediscovered daily home cooking. According to the study participants, quality was more important than the cheapest price, which benefited local supermarkets and neighbourhood stores in particular.

E-commerce consumer goods revenues tripled
Even though stationary retail was just as agile, e-commerce for consumer goods was ahead and was able to grow three times as strongly at 25 percent than in previous years. Most study participants expect the level of online sales to remain stable even after public life normalises. As a result, many companies have shifted their focus areas and are expanding their digital offerings. «It is pleasing to see how well the Swiss consumer goods trade has overcome the crisis. The very high willingness to invest shows how seriously providers see the need to adapt. This will further accelerate the change in commerce», predicts Urs Kisling, Board Member of Datatrans.

The consumer goods sector is optimistic about the future – but how long will this high level last?
According to the study, the consumer sentiment for the current year is estimated to be optimistic. The companies surveyed assume that consumers will continue to have an increased budget from saved travel, catering and cultural spending in 2021. «The consumer goods sector is experiencing a veritable boom due to the contact restrictions. But the time will come when they will have to relinquish market shares in favour of travel, restaurant visits and leisure experiences», Prof Wölfle summarises the situation. 


About the Commerce Report Switzerland
Since 2009, the Commerce Report Switzerland has been investigating the importance, change and trends in sales to end consumers – as the only series of studies from the perspective of providers. Participants are interviewed by the University of Applied Sciences and Arts Northwestern Switzerland (FHNW) on behalf of Datatrans. Due to the wide-ranging impact of COVID-19 on the consumer goods trade, this study will be expanded in a further issue in November 2021. The topic will be developments in the supplier landscape and business models.

Further topics

  • Assessing the situation of companies and sectors after the coronavirus boom
  • Developments in sectors and e-commerce
  • Estimates on investments and the development of market shares of foreign providers
  • Investment behaviour and key activities of companies

29 online and multi-channel providers of consumer goods in Switzerland with market-shaping potential and an e-commerce volume of around CHF 3.2 billion.

Free download from Thursday, 17 June 2021

More information (2021 study concept explained on YouTube)

Contact us
Prof Ralf Wölfle, Study Director
University of Applied Sciences and Arts Northwestern Switzerland (FHNW)
Head of E-Business Competence Focus
061 279 17 55,

Urs Kisling, Board Member, Datatrans Ltd
044 256 81 91,