The number of bankruptcies continue to decrease in all Nordic markets except Denmark. For the first half of 2021 numbers are even lower than before the Covid-19 outbreak in Norway, Finland and Sweden– according to new data from Enento Group and Experian. In Denmark bankruptcies have increased by 6 per cent in 2021 compared to the same period in 2019. Behind the numbers are different national strategies of handling the economic challenges of the pandemic.

Enento Group and Experian have analyzed and summarized the bankruptcies for the first six months of 2021 for Denmark, Norway, Finland and Sweden. We have compared this data with the same period of 2020, as well as 2019 – prior to the world changing pandemic. The trend of decreasing numbers of bankruptcies during the first half of 2021 is similar in all Nordic countries. Denmark being the exception.

  • What we see right now is a global recovery trend, with GDP rising in the developed countries during 2021. Rising stock markets and home prices, in combination with aid programs that target smaller firms, fuels consumption and the economy. In the Nordics the trend is similar, but the strategies for tackling the economy somewhat differ between the Nordic countries. We have now got to the point where we can actually start to see some indicators of what economic strategies worked and which did not, and that is interesting, comments Jukka Ruuska, CEO of Enento Group, the Nordic owner of the local brands Asiakastieto in Finland and UC in Sweden

Danish bankruptcies hit the ceiling

The latest Nordic statistics from Enento Group and Experian shows that bankruptcies in general have decreased in the Nordics. In Sweden the decrease was – 14 per cent compared with first half of 2019, in Finland – 3 per cent and in Norway a very high – 32 per cent.

In Denmark the bankruptcies have increased with 6 per cent between 2019 and 2021, and by 69 per cent between 2020 and 2021.

  • During the whole pandemic we have yet to see the large boom in bankruptcies – in fact the latest months we have seen a stagnant level of bankruptcies compared to same period last year. The increase we see in the number are due to those few months with slightly heightened bankruptcies (primo 2021) and have mostly been due to technical reasons and it is not completely unlikely that we won’t have a boom at all, comments Bo Rasmussen, Experian Nordics Chief Customer Officer.
  • Practically all restrictions have been lifted recently and the general economy is doing quite well, new establishment numbers are also up compared to last year. So far, the Danish economy has rebounded faster than expected but there is still uncertainties looming in the future. For instance, one aid package has been that companies could postpone VAT payments. When these payments are due, it is important that economic fragile companies consolidate them selves to avoid a belated bankruptcy, comments Bo Rasmussen.

In Finland the legislation has temporary changed to make it more difficult to apply for bankruptcy.  As well as in Sweden this makes the future unpredictable, as we don’t know to what degree the companies that has postponed their taxes will manage to pay them within the legalized time frame. The bankruptcies may increase further down the road if affected companies do not increase their cash flow enough. The delta variant of the virus and an increase in the inflation are other threats to the overall positive picture, comments Jukka Ruuska, CEO of Enento Group.

In Norway, we have seen a decrease in bankruptcy numbers throughout the Covid period. Overall, there is a high decrease comparing the last months bankruptcies with pre-Covid 2019 levels, especially in July, in which we are down 48 %.

  • Arguments related to measures taken by the government and public sector have been pointed out to explain the lack of bankruptcies during the period with low economic activity. As restrictions are being lifted and the economic activity is returning to normal levels, we have seen a further decrease in bankruptcies. There is still yet to be seen if the negative effects from Covid on businesses will materialize in higher bankruptcy numbers, but as of now, it is positive that the numbers do not support this negative view. The low bankruptcy numbers are aligned with the response from businesses in a recent survey NHO conducted on its member, which shows lower fear of bankruptcy and higher confidence in their own financial situation and outlook, comments Bo Rasmussen

Retail is recovering in all Nordic countries

Overall, however, the indicators for the future of the Nordic economies are positive. Few industries have made such a U-turn looking from a Nordic perspective, as Retail. The Retails industry is getting back on its feet all over the Nordic. The bankruptcies are now at a lower level than before covid-19. In Sweden the decrease was – 6 per cent compared with first half of 2019, in Finland – 12 per cent, in Denmark – 9 per cent and in Norway a very high – 54 per cent.

  • Sales in the retail market is increasing broadly again, both in e-commerce and in physical stores. Subindustries as the outdoor retail are doing phenomenally good as consumers are spending their vacation at home. But there are still some problems with the supply of goods, also in the border region of Sweden and Norway where the restrictions have had a huge impact on the retail stores, comments Jukka Ruuska, CEO of Enento Group.

Food and accommodation are doing well in Finland and Norway

Food and Accommodations industry, that has been highly exposed to bankruptcies during the beginning of covid-19 outbreak, is now doing well in both Finland and Norway. The bankruptcies have decreased with – 11 per cent in Finland and – 41 per cent in Norway even compared to the same period in 2019.

In Sweden and Denmark the bankruptcies have increased compared to 2019, but when compared to 2020 they have decreased with – 20 per cent in Sweden – which means the industry is slowly starting to recover there as well. In Denmark however bankruptcies for the sector increased with 44 per cent between 2021 and 2020.

  • This is an industry that has been heavily affected by the pandemic almost everywhere in the world. In the Nordics we are now experiencing a positive trend as the restaurants increase their turnover when the society opens up. Another trend of which we very likely but will see increasingly over time is consumer that are using their now increased savings to consume. There is a possibility for a ketchup effect that will benefit the small business, not least in the Food and Accommodations industry. However, in the short run, many companies lack experienced personnel that will affect the ability to take advantage of the higher demand from the consumers, comments Jukka Ruuska, CEO of Enento Group.
  • Companies that rely on seasonal workers (restaurant, hotels, etc.) has experienced an unexpected turn of events. A large number interim covid testes has been hired by the authorities. In turn, other industries have struggled with hiring sufficient workforce to accommodate the increased demand. One could speculate that companies in this sector are less consolidated than companies in other industries, and therefore they might be more vulnerable and prone to future bankruptcies (e.g. due to the delayed VAT payments), comments Bo Rasmussen.

Construction is still little affected

An industry that has been quite stable in the whole Nordic region during the pandemic, is the construction industry. In Sweden the increase of bankruptcies was only 3 per cent compared with 2019, in Finland there has been a decrease of – 5 per cent and in Norway – 28 per cent. Again, Denmark is the exception with an increase of 27 per cent.

  • As many consumers are spending more time at home and house prices are rising, many has decided to improve their housing. That has led to an increase in the demand for construction services and the number of companies in the industry has risen. The industry is normally heavily affected by bankruptcies but has interestingly enough not been affected during the pandemic with some exceptions, comments Jukka Ruuska, CEO of Enento Group.


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