COVID-19 and regional shifts in Swiss retail payments

Prof. Dr. Sébastien P. Kraenzlin, Dr. Christoph Meyer and Dr. Thomas Nellen



JEL classification
E210, E420, E650, E710, R100

COVID-19, lockdown, card payment data, regional sale shifts


This paper analyzes card payments to the retail sector in Switzerland during the COVID-19 crisis. We provide evidence on aggregate effects and regional shifts. Pronounced shifts - which persisted post-lockdown - can be observed from urban to suburban and rural areas and among cantons. Data allow us to identify directly two sources of shifts: "tourists and business travelers," and "e-commerce." We indirectly identify additional sources: infection risk, lockdown measures, working from home, shopping tourism, and cash substitution. The COVID-19 crisis seems to have reinforced pre-existing trends that may have faster than anticipated effects on the economy. Our analysis underscores the usefulness of real-time card payment data to inform policy makers.