Swiss consumer sentiment in April collapsed to a historic low, the government has said, with participants in the latest study expecting a severe recession caused by the coronavirus epidemic that has stifled the world economy.
Sentiment has fallen from −9 points in January to −40 points, a figure reflecting little confidence. Meanwhile, expectations regarding general economic development have deteriorated severely, with that figure plunging to a record low of −84 points.
The only other time consumer confidence plunged this low was in the early 1990s, the Federal Department of Economic Affairs (SECO) said in an extraordinary release outside its normal schedule, comparing the current period to when Swiss economic growth was among Europe's weakest and endured a prolonged recession.
The Swiss government is plowing tens of billions of Swiss francs into liquidity assistance in the form of cheap loans for businesses seeking to stay afloat as they put workers on shorter hours or lay some off as revenue dries up.
Shops are closed, restaurants shuttered, and air travel all but vanished as measures are in place to try to contain the virus's spread.
"Respondents are also getting ready for tough times in terms of their own budget," SECO said. "The question about whether now is a good time to make major purchases has received a more negative response than ever before."
SECO added that a question posed to survey respondents about whether now is a good time to make major purchases "received a more negative response than ever before," with the index for that standing at −48 points and reflecting the closure of numerous businesses and particularly high uncertainty.