The Swedish economy hasn't suffered the series of financial hits (yet) of the U.S. market, but high interest rates and shaky confidence have been two factors precipitating a steep decline in Swede's shopping habits predicted this fall, and growth of online bartering or swapping (In Sweden it's called 'swopping').
Apartment swaps popular, followed by clothes and electronics
Especially in big cities such as Stockholm, where housing is increasingly tight, swapping of apartments - usually trades are say from one to two bedrooms - is already a huge barter business advertised in mainstream papers. Now, however, one of the three biggest barter sites, Bytessajten, is taking a piece of that apartment-swap action, with clothes and electronics two other popular trade categories. One woman in Northern Sweden traded 100 freshly baked cinnamon rolls (a national favorite) for a newer used PC when her older computer crashed and couldn't be revived.
Bartering, a fairly recession-proof means of getting goods, is also growing in the U.S. - some Craigslist sites, a CNN article notes, are getting double the listings this year they did in 2007. Food swapping is becoming a growing trend in the UK, too.Swapping is now a serious business
SwapThing, which lists 3.4 million items available to trade, sees the barter trade growing as the economy sours. America's Research Group said 67 percent of consumers have haggled in recent months, compared to 33 percent in 2006.
Back in Sweden, this weekend will see the launch of one of Northern Europe's first 'swopping' vintage clothes markets in Stockholm. Last year, successful smaller 'swop' markets have made the trend acceptable to fashion-conscious Swedes, and now 'Bakåt:Framåt' ('Forwards/Backwards') is expecting a high turnout of clothes swappers. One word of note: Just like in the U.S., in Sweden swaps are expected to be reported to the tax authorities, unless they are simply an exchange of services!