War in Ukraine sparked wave of panic buying in Switzerland

War in Ukraine sparked wave of panic buying in Switzerland

The online department store, Digitec Galaxus, has revealed that sales of canned goods and ready meals skyrocketed in March and April this year. The war in Ukraine apparently changed the behaviour of shoppers in Switzerland, as people scrambled to secure the essential supplies recommended by the government.

Russian invasion led to panic buying in Swiss cities

"The need for emergency stock products is definitely noticeable," said Stephan Kurmann, spokesperson for Digitec Galaxus. He traced the rise in panic buying to comments made in early March by Defence Minister Viola Amherd, who said it made sense to stock up on emergency supplies after the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

According to Kurmann, sales of canned goods like ravioli and ready meals increased by 214 percent in March, sugar sales increased by 133 percent and milk sales by 118 percent. For our furry friends, Galaxus recorded an 80 percent rise in sales of dog and cat food.

People in Switzerland panic bought radios and water filters

While sales growth slowed in April, Kurmann confirmed that many people are still trying to buy emergency equipment and supplies. According to Migros, one of Switzerland’s largest supermarkets, while grocery buying did increase in March, things have now returned to normal. "Perhaps too many people have too much canned ravioli from the coronavirus pandemic in stock," Kurmann joked.

Along with food, other essential supplies like radios, filters for water, first aid kits, camping and fishing equipment and night vision devices saw a huge rise in demand in Switzerland due to the war in Ukraine. People also rushed to secure sources of energy, with sales of power banks and solar panels increasing fourfold in March.

Panic buying and stockpiling in Switzerland likely to continue

Finally, SRF reported that the number of gun licence applications has increased. Much like in some federal states in Germany, the number of gun licence applications in the city of Zurich doubled after the Russian invasion, with many other cities and cantons also seeing a significant rise.

Kurmann said that strong emotions like fear can lead people to make irrational decisions, noting, "Many people are now buying things that they will never need." As the war in Ukraine continues, international companies in Switzerland predict that panic buying will continue until the conflict is resolved.

Jan de Boer


Jan de Boer

Editor for Switzerland at IamExpat Media. Jan studied History at the University of York and Broadcast Journalism at the University of Sheffield. Though born in York, Jan has lived most...

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