Swiss consumers angry at move to make shopping abroad less attractive

Helena Bachmann
Helena Bachmann - [email protected]
Swiss consumers angry at move to make shopping abroad less attractive
Groceries are cheaper abroad than in Switzerland. Photo by Maria Lin Kim on Unsplash

In order to protect Switzerland’s retailers, the government plans to toughen the rules for cross-border shopping. But this move is sparking criticism among consumers.


The so-called ‘shopping tourism’ is very popular among Switzerland’s public, as food and many other goods are cheaper in neighbouring countries.

For people living in Switzerland’s border regions, driving to nearby supermarkets abroad to stock up on groceries has been a profitable undertaking, especially since Swiss wages are higher than those of its neighbours, and the franc-euro ratio is favourable too.

However, responding to several motions filed to this effect in the parliament, Finance Minister Karin Keller-Sutter wants to cut the tax-free allowance on foreign purchases by half — from 300 to 150 francs — and, in effect, make shopping sprees to Germany, France, Italy, and Austria less attractive.
READ ALSO: Why cross-border shopping could become less lucrative for Swiss consumers 

This move, announced earlier this week, has sparked a wave of criticism from Swiss shoppers who are used to driving to neighbouring countries to stock up on food and other products for fraction of a price these goods would cost in Switzerland.

“The government cannot just ‘lock up’ consumers” in Switzerland, said Sara Stalder, president of the Consumer Protection Federation

In addition, the timing for such a measure “could not have been more inappropriate,” with health insurance premiums, electricity prices, and other costs going up in 2024, she pointed out.


‘I’ll shop in Germany out of spite’

In a survey on this subject carried out by 20 Minuten news portal, 84 percent of the respondents were not at all happy about the government’s move to make shopping abroad less profitable. 

“I am going to shop in Germany just out of spite,” one person wrote.

“I will continue to drive across the border at every opportunity and buy everything I need,” another commentator said.

And yet another pointed out that the government “should hold Migros and Coop accountable".

"If they didn’t charge such high prices, then people wouldn’t have to go shopping abroad," they argued. 
READ ALSO: Is the influx of foreign discount chains in Switzerland good for consumers?


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Mark Austin 2023/11/29 09:07
The exceptionally high salaries in Switzerland are only possible because of the higher prices. Anyone who doesn't understand this also doesn't understand the basics of economics, and as such their opinions should not be considered seriously.
Peter Macdonald 2023/11/16 20:32
I live near to the Italian border but rarely shop there as I consider that to be “spitting on the hand that feeds me”. Don’t people realise the charitable and social benefits that Migros and Coop cooperatives (cooperatives!) bring? I find it reprehensible that foreigners who live in this country seem to resent that the higher salaries that they enjoy are also recognised to supermarket staff.

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