To main content

Continued decline in business sector sales in May

| News

Sales in the business sector fell dramatically in May compared with the same month last year, according to preliminary statistics based on the VAT Register. The decrease was 15 percent in total, although it was greater in individual industries.

In view of the keen interest in the effects of the coronavirus crisis on the Swedish economy, Statistics Sweden is publishing preliminary sales statistics for May 2020. This publication is separate from the ordinary production.

The figures show that sales in the goods industries decreased by 18 percent in May, while sales of services decreased by 13 percent.

The decline for business sector sales was 15 percent in total, and 12.5 percent according to calendar adjusted figures.

“The difference between various industries remains large. Some fare worse, while some fare better,” says Daniel Lennartsson, statistician at Statistics Sweden.

Travel industry sales fell dramatically

Travel agency sales dropped by 100 percent in May, compared with May 2019. Hotels and restaurants decreased sharply, by 79 percent and 29 percent respectively. Transport by rail fell by 41 percent.

At the same time, other industries are increasing or doing less poorly. Retail trade increased in May, and the construction industry is also sustaining relatively well.

Business sector sales for April have been revised upwards to a downturn of 11 percent, both unadjusted and calendar adjusted.

Table 1 Sales in current prices compared with the same period last year (weighted with sales)


May 2020

April – May 2020 (%)


Goods industries -18 -15 39.6
Manufacturing industries -22 -19 24.0
Engineering industry -32 -33 11.1
Construction industry -7 -3 9.6
Services -13 -12 60.4
Sales of motor vehicles -31 -30 5.4
Transport by rail -41 -37 0.2
Public transport -16 -14 0.8
Taxi -51 -40 0.2
Airline industry -83 -81 0.4
Hotels -79 -76 0.6
Restaurant services -29 -34 1.3
Travel agencies -100 -97 0.9
Cultural affairs -27 -33 0.8
Business (2) -15 -13 100.0

1) Industry turnover as a percentage of total industry

2) Business sector excluding property services, financial services, education and health care.

Weighting of individual industries to industry totals may impact the interpretation of the statistics. Table 2 presents the sales development weighted against the industries’ value added. This table also includes property services.

Table 2 Sales in current prices weighted against industries’ value added


May 2020

April – May 2020 (%)


Goods industries -17 -13 38.3
Services (incl. properties) -11 -9 61.7
Business sector (incl. properties) (2) -13 -11 100.0

1) Industry turnover as a percentage of total industry

2) Business sector excluding financial services, education and health care

Facts: 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 May was supplemented with data from the Production Value Index (PVI).

For May, there is a weighted response rate of 68 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 nonetheless the figures indicate an anticipated development.

These statistics are neither fixed price nor calendar adjusted.

There is a calendar effect in May. This year, May has two working days less than May last year. The calendar adjustment would have raised the results by around 2.5 percentage points. In April, the prices increased by 1.5 percent at an annual rate according to the PVI.

Statistics Sweden will publish the monthly sales indicator during the summer with the following publication dates:

Reference month Sales indicator
June 2020-07-22
July 2020-08-24
August 2020-09-22


Large downturn in sales in industry

Read more articles at on how the coronavirus outbreak is affecting society


Daniel Lennartsson

+46 10 479 64 29

Julia Kahlström

+46 10 479 46 53

Johannes Cleris, Press officer

+46 72 084 40 83