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The Christmas Gift of the Year There are some peculiarities in Swedish Christmas traditions according to many non-Swedes. Some of them are found on Julbordet, the Swedish Christmas Buffet. Others include the tradition to sit down in front of the TV on Christmas Eve at 3pm to look at Donald Duck and his friends celebrating Christmas.

And yet another one is the Swedish Trade Research Institute’s 24 years old tradition of naming the Swedish Christmas Gift of the Year. The Institute has some demands for a product to qualify for the title:

- The product should be new or have generated a renewed interest during the year

- The product should have a high sales value or being sold in big quantities

- The product should represent the time we live in

Bakmaskinen, the bread baking machine, was named the first Swedish Christmas Gift of the Year in 1988. It became a flop, and so did the Tamagotchi (kind of an artificial, electronic pet) in 1997 and Spikmattan (spike mat or acupressure mat) in 2009.

But some Swedish Christmas Gifts of the Year have become sustainable hits. Like the Wok pan in 1990, the CD-player in 1991, the Internet package in 1996 and the flat screen TV in 2004.

Now, the 2011 Swedish Christmas Gift of the Year is:

The Ready Packed Grocery Bag!

The bag is ordered via Internet and is delivered directly to the customer’s door, typically on late Monday afternoons. It contains foodstuff and recipes covering the coming weekdays’ dinners. It’s the supplier who decides on the exact content of the bag, which is fresh, tasty, nutritious, and quick and easy to cook.

- The Ready Packed Grocery Bag is a welcomed solution for people wanting an easy daily life in a stressed world and are prepared to pay for it. Providing services is a growing part in Swedish grocery retail and we will see more of this in the future. We are also living in a time when eCommerce, including foodstuff, via PC’s, laptops and smartphones is growing, says the Swedish Trade Research Institute.

Last year, the eCommerce of foodstuff in Sweden reached SEK 1,5 billion in turnover, representing a 40% increase compared to 2009. The Ready Packed Grocery Bag concept was launched in Sweden a couple of years ago, but this year marks a break through for the product as sales have increased significantly.

The Christmas shopping makes December the most important month in terms of retail sales around the world.

- Swedish households have increased their consumption with a bit more than 2% this year. However, the consumption increase has mainly involved cars, restaurant visits and leisure travel. Furthermore, there are clear signs that the households are worrying about the current European economical situation. Swedish shops and department stores have consequently some challenges to face during this year’s Christmas shopping, says the Swedish Trade Research Institute.

- Our prognosis for this year’s December retail sales ends up at SEK 65,2 billion, equaling a 1% increase compared to December last year, concludes the Institute.