Swiss retail giant Migros to remain alcohol-free after vote

The suspense is finally over: Switzerland’s largest supermarket chain Migros, which hasn't sold beer or win for 94 years, will remain alcohol free.

Swiss retail giant Migros to remain alcohol-free after vote
The vote is in: Migros will remain booze-less. Photo by Fabrice COFFRINI / AFP

In a much-anticipated referendum of sorts, all 10 regional Migros cooperatives voted recently on whether the supermarket, as well as its restaurants and take-aways, should lift a 94-year-old ban on not selling alcoholic beverages.

The votes have been tallied and the results were announced on Thursday morning: it’s an overwhelming ‘nein’, ‘non’ or ‘no’ to booze sales.

The vote “impressively shows the great attachment of the population to Migros and its democratic values,” Ursula Nold, President of the Administration of the Federation of Migros Cooperatives (MGB), said in a press release.

“The result is not surprising because all the polls pointed to a clear ‘no’, she said, adding that “members of the cooperative made a clear decision that was unanimous across Switzerland”.

Marianne Meyer, president of the MGB Delegates’ Assembly, said that “the impetus to once again discuss the alcohol ban in came from among the delegates and not from management. Now our base of cooperative members has made an unequivocal decision. Something like this is only possible in the Migros community”.

Changing the current ban would have required a two-thirds majority, Nold said.

Why isn’t Migros selling alcohol?

Unlike its rival Coop, along with other chains like Aldi and Lidl, Migros has not sold any alcoholic beverages since 1928 — three years after Swiss businessman and politician Gottlieb Duttweiler founded the company.

He enacted the ban to protect public health and to fight against “the all-powerful alcohol sector”, according to Migros.

READ MORE: EXPLAINED: The real reason Swiss supermarket Migros doesn’t sell alcohol

Twenty years later, in 1948, Duttweiler had asked the delegates to decide whether the ban should remain in place. At that point, 52.4 percent voted to maintain it.

The ban remains, but…

It may not be the “real thing”, but Migros will be launching in 2023 a non-alcoholic beer brand called “Non”, the company announced.

And while there will be no booze of any kind on Migros’ shelves, its subsidiary, Denner, which is often located inside the same commercial centres, does sell alcohol.

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.
For members


EXPLAINED: What you are still allowed to do in Switzerland this Christmas

Recent government measures restrict many festivities traditionally associated with the holiday season. But some activities are not banned.

EXPLAINED: What you are still allowed to do in Switzerland this Christmas
Despite restrictions, Swiss Christmas can still be merry. Photo ny AFP

It is certain that Christmas celebrations will be much different this year than we are accustomed to.

Switzerland’s government has ordered new national restrictions from December 13th to January 22nd to curb the increasing rate of Covid-19 infections. 

Among them are limits on the number of people allowed  to get together — up to five people from two households, with exceptions for up to 10 people from December 24th to 26th, and on December 31st for Christmas and New Year festivities.

This rule excludes large gatherings that are traditional in many families. But let’s not lose sight of the fact that a number of enjoyable activities that bring ‘comfort and joy’ to many people are still possible.


In stores, the number of square metres per customer is now 10 — up from four previously — to ensure more space and fewer people in stores at the same time.

This means a more pleasant shopping experience for everyone, as it will prevent overcrowding in the stores, which so often happens during the busy Christmas season.

Small get-togethers

Ten people is better than none. Think of these gatherings as more personal and intimate, where you can interact with people much better than during big blowouts. Plus, smaller groups make it easier to maintain distance between people rather than huddle together and facilitate virus transmission.

Eating out

Though restaurants and bars will have to close at 7 pm in most of Switzerland, they can stay open until 11 pm in the Swiss-French regions, which have managed to keep their infection rates under control for the time being.

This means you can still eat out, even if it’s only for breakfast, lunch, or afternoon coffee.

But on December 24th and 31st they can remain open until 1 am.


Unlike neighbouring countries, which have banned skiing this Christmas, Switzerland is allowing this activity, under strict conditions. 

Masks will be mandatory not only in closed spaces such as mountain trains and cable cars, but also on open-air chair lifts and T-bars, as well as in queues.

In addition, queuing will be regulated so it runs in an orderly manner and without major clusters.

The number of passengers in closed ski cabins will be lowered to two thirds of the usual capacity.

And cantons must ensure that they have the hospital capacity and the ability to undertake testing and contact tracing.

Still, despite a raft of rules, slopes are open, and that is good news for a nation of avid skiers. 

Outdoor activities

There are few rules in place for those who want to spend Christmas outdoors, whether hiking, cross-country skiing, sledding, or engaging in other winter activities.

Being outdoors in open spaces is safe if distances can be maintained.

So while some holiday activities are banned or scaled down, there is still lots to enjoy during the Christmas season.