Could new rules in Switzerland deter Christmas shoppers?

On Friday, Switzerland's government announced new pre-Christmas measures to prevent coronavirus infections, including some relating to shopping.

Could new rules in Switzerland deter Christmas shoppers?
Getting into stores after December 9th will require queuing. Photo by AFP

From December 9th, only one customer per 10 square metres will be allowed in stores — up from 4 square metres presently.

In smaller businesses of up to 30 square metres, the threshold has been set at 5 square metres per customer.

This step will ensure that there are fewer people shopping at the same time, and prevent  overcrowding during the busy Christmas season.

But some retailers are concerned that queues in front of stores and longer wait times to get inside will deter people from shopping.

“These measures are very restrictive for shopping centres that will have to manage the flow of customers”, said Mathias F. Böhm of Pro Innerstadt, an association of retailers, restaurateurs and hoteliers in Basel.

Milan Prenosil, president of the retailers’ association in Zürich is worried that new measures will drive people away from physical stores to online shopping.

READ MORE: Switzerland announces new Covid-19 rules for Christmas


However, Rageht Clavadetscher, manager of Zürich's Glattzentrum mall, believes there are ways to entice customers to continue shopping, despite the restrictions,

“We are currently thinking about different ways to keep our customers in a good mood while they wait”, he said.

“The distribution of free samples is one option being considered”, he noted.

And Switzerland’s two largest supermarket chains, Migros and Coop, also said new rules should not pose a problem, as the same system was already in use during the first coronavirus wave. 

At that time only a certain number of people were allowed inside the stores. Customers were given numbers and had to wait outside until permitted to enter.

“This will not be a problem for Migros. These measures were already in force in the spring, ” spokesperson Marc Schlatter said.

Coop’s spokesperson also confirmed that the safety of employees and customers is “the highest priority”.

“We’ll be applying the measures to the letter”.

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