'Swiss crush': Shoppers from Switzerland head to France after stores close

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'Swiss crush': Shoppers from Switzerland head to France after stores close
Border crossing between Geneva and French town of Thonex. Photo by AFP

Many Swiss residents now unable to shop for "non-essential" products in Switzerland are heading over the border en masse to make their purchases in France.


Shops in Switzerland, which sell goods deemed as "non-essential" by the Federal Council had to close their doors on Monday.

"Retail tourism" from Switzerland is not a new phenomenon — many residents living close to the borders often go shopping in the neighbouring countries, as prices there are cheaper.

But now people from Switzerland shop in France out of necessity, and not just to save money, Tribune de Genève (TDG) newspaper reported on Monday.

“I'm looking for snowshoes. Usually, I would have shopped in Switzerland, but now I don't have a choice”, a customer shopping at the Cap Bernard shopping centre in the industrial zone of Ville-la-Grand, located 11 km from Geneva, told the newspaper.

 “I’m not used to shopping in France. I even had to put my GPS on to find the store because I had never been here before”, the customer added.

READ MORE: Is Switzerland 'pilfering' health workers from France during pandemic?

Other shoppers from Switzerland also told TDG they came to France because the item they needed is no longer allowed to be sold in Switzerland — such as a TV set, which is not considered to be an essential item right now.


French retailers said they expect an even greater number of Swiss customers over the weekend, even though they must close their businesses at 6 pm, according to the new curfew rules.

“At the end of the week, we expect the Swiss crush”, one retailer said.

Even though France now requires people from outside the EU to present a negative coronavirus test upon entry, Switzerland is excluded from this obligation as it is a member of the Schengen area.

Meanwhile, retailers in Switzerland are confused by the rules established by the Swiss government regarding goods that can and cannot be sold in stores.

READ MORE: 'An absurd situation': Swiss retailers left baffled by shop closing rules 

Curiously, items such as perfumes, cosmetics, kitchen utensils, tableware, envelopes, house plants and flowers, photo equipment, and gardening tools are also classified by the government as essential goods.

On the other hand, light bulbs and electronics are not. 

Mike Schüpbach, a legal expert at the Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH) conceded the government’s list “is a compromise that may seem contradictory to some”. 


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