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Looking back at Nordic bankruptcies 2020

We recently shared some positive bankruptcies statistics together with Experian showing that the bankruptcies in all Nordic countries surprisingly decreased when summarizing the year 2020. This is great news and it is interesting to see that the largest decrease of bankruptcies is found in Denmark, where the bankruptcies have decreased by -34 % compared to 2020. That trend follows in all Nordic countries, with a decrease in bankruptcies of -6 % in Finland, -18 % in Norway and -3 % in Sweden.

Our statistics show that although the beginning of the year started with an increasing amount of bankruptcies due to the pandemic situation in the world, the year 2020 ends on the more positive side of things.

The pandemic struck the world with an unexpected pace in 2020 and mine and many others’ expectations were that it would have had a large impact on businesses and corporations around the globe. However, the corona effect on bankruptcies didn’t last very long, and when looking at the total figures of 2020, the business climate in the Nordics is strong and solid. The governmental support for companies, the patience of debtors, and some law changes have been supporting the situation in the Nordics better than expected.

Some industries are doing better than others

It is uplifting to see that one segment that has been coping very well within the Nordics during this special year is the construction industry.  In this segment the bankruptcies have decreased by -15 % in Denmark, – 8 % in Finland, – 25 % in Norway and increased by 3 % in Sweden.

In other larger industry segments, such as Food and Accommodations as well as Transport, there are some differences between our countries. The country that stands out in a negative way is Sweden, with quite high increase in bankruptcies for both of these industries. In the Food and Accommodations industry in Sweden bankruptcies increased with 36 % and in Transportation the increase was 27 % compared.

In Denmark, it looks better and the bankruptcies in Food and Accommodations decreases with – 21 % and in Transportation with – 39 %. In Finland, bankruptcies within the Food and Accommodation didn’t decrease nor increase while the transportation industry decreased with – 8 %. In Norway, the bankruptcies within Food and Accommodations didn’t decrease nor increase, but bankruptcies within the transportation segment decreases with – 16 %.

Local restrictions affect the outcome

I think these variations on how well different business segments have coped during 2020 might depend a lot on the local guidelines and restrictions from authorities. Sweden is the only country with no shutdowns and where malls, restaurants and bars have been open throughout the entire year. We know that the Food and Accommodations segments have been hit hard by the pandemic situation, and those that early on could re-organize and offer home deliveries will hopefully not be as affected for the upcoming months of 2021.

Let us hope this decreasing trend will continue during 2021 and that we will slowly move back to a more normal way of living in the Nordics.


If you are interested to hear more about this I was interviewed on Swedish Radio, talking about this. Listen to the interview here.

About the data:
The data presented in this blog post is stating bankruptcies in Denmark, Norway, Finland and Sweden during 2020, compared with 2019. Public administration and defense have been excluded.

Denmark-22%-10%-75%-49%-15%-1 %-26%-24%-9%-51%-49%-9%-34%