People in Switzerland ditch shopping across border as prices in Germany soar

People in Switzerland ditch shopping across border as prices in Germany soar

Because of near-record high inflation rates in Germany, the number of people from Switzerland crossing the border to do their daily shopping has declined precipitously, 20 Minuten has reported. It follows a recent study by the newspaper which found that many basic goods are now cheaper in Swiss supermarkets than they are in the federal republic.

High inflation hits Germany harder than Switzerland

According to a new study by the University of St. Gallen, one in five people surveyed said that they are no longer partaking in so-called “shopping tourism”, the phenomenon where people living in Swiss cities and cantons near the border drive across and do their daily shop in Germany. For decades, the comparatively low prices in German supermarkets attracted droves of Swiss looking for a good deal and led to a boom in business in German border towns like Konstanz.

Now, according to the Swiss university, the food inflation rate in Germany is more than double the rate in Switzerland, making it less cost-effective to shop in the federal republic once the price of fuel and public transport tickets are taken into account. In February, annual inflation on food and drinks stood at 6,5 percent in Switzerland, compared to 21,8 percent in Germany. 

Fruit and veg now cheaper in Switzerland than in Germany

This means that, despite the strength of the Swiss franc compared to the Euro, a number of basic goods are now more expensive for the Swiss to buy in Germany than in Switzerland. 20 Minuten found that while branded products are still more expensive in Switzerland, basics like fruit and vegetables are now much cheaper to buy in the alpine nation - in the most extreme example, they found that papaya is three times more expensive in Germany than in Switzerland.

Coop spokesperson Casper Frey told 20 Minuten that low inflation was the main reason for the cheaper prices, noting that "especially in the fruit and vegetable sector, we were able to reduce numerous prices last year." Lidl spokesperson Jaqueline Fäs said that while fruit and vegetable prices vary from week to week, veg is currently cheaper in Switzerland than in both France and Italy, concluding that shopping tourism is much less attractive today than it was before.

"As soon as the prices change, this is reflected in the shopping habits," noted retail expert Marcel Stoffel. Speaking to 20 Minuten, he said that he “can therefore well imagine that people will be more likely to shop in Switzerland again."

Thumb image: / Artorn Thongtukit

Jan de Boer


Jan de Boer

Jan studied in York and Sheffield in the UK, obtaining a master's in broadcast journalism and a bachelor's in history. He has worked as a radio DJ, TV presenter, and...

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