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Retailers' Christmas starts Wednesday

With over 2.2 billion euros in tax returns being paid out this week, retailers are expecting the Christmas shopping season to start in earnest and to reflect growing confidence in the economy.

Asiakkaat kävelevät joulukuusen ohi supermarketissa.
Image: YLE

As will be the case in many parts of the country, shopping malls in Lapland's capital, Rovaniemi will be open later than usual on Wednesday, until 11 or even 12 PM.

With over 3 million people getting refunds on the taxes they paid in 2013, many retailers plan to keep their doors open with special programmes and entertainment on what can be considered as the start of the Christmas shopping season.

Timo Kukkola, who has a shoe store in Rovaniemi's Revontulikeskus shopping centre, considers it one of the most important days of the year for his business.

"Tax refund day is a nice start to the Christmas shopping season. Since many people have hundreds of euros or even a thousand appearing in their bank accounts, it's nice for them to head out to shop. It doesn't make up all of the season's retail trade, but it's a good start and it is good to get started," says Kukkola.

Confident enough to spend

A new survey by the Finnish Commerce Federation shows that in general the nation's retail sector expects to see tax refunds boost their sales, with Christmas shopping in full swing following this weekend's celebration of Independence Day.

According to the Federation's chief economist, Jaana Kurjenoja, spending in preparation for the holidays is a reflection of growing confidence among consumers in their own personal financial position and in their future.

The latest survey by the Federation shows that single-child families have the greatest tendency to increase spending this Christmas. In this group, 90% say they are likely to spend at least as much as they did last year.

Despite the fact that the money from tax refunds will be available to 3.3 million people this week, it is the week just proceeding Christmas when sales are expected to peak. Even so, not everyone will be rushing out to spend the extra cash right away, or even on Christmas.

"I calculate my tax rate in order to make sure I always get a sizable return," explains one young woman sitting in a cafe in the Revontulikeskus shopping centre. "I usually don't buy stuff with it. I always use it for travel, and that's what I'm going to do now, too."

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