Local stores 20-30 percent cheaper than Coop and Migros, newspaper finds
A new report by the Tages-Anzeiger has suggested that those looking for the best deals at the supermarket should avoid the major brands and instead choose to shop locally. In their analysis, they found that products at smaller stores can be up to 30 percent cheaper than in Coop and Migros.
Local grocery stores undercutting Migros and Coop
With Switzerland expected to limit cross-border shopping in the next year, the Swiss media has begun to analyse where the cheapest place to shop is if Germany becomes largely off-limits. In their study, they found that people do not have to look very far afield in order to get the best deals.
The Tages-Anzeiger found that smaller or local supermarkets outside the major brands can offer the same products for 30 percent less than in Coop and Migros. In Barkat Cash and Carry in Zurich, for example, a kilogram of tomatoes was found to cost 0,90 francs. In Migros in the same area, the price stood at 4,50 francs per kilo.
In their admittedly limited analysis, the Tages-Anzeiger found that local stores offered cheaper prices on practically all products. Speaking to the newspaper, a worker at the Alima supermarket in Biel / Bienne said, “We know our customers well and know that many people cannot afford to shop at Migros,” thanks to the recent fall in purchasing power.
The seller added that a majority of their customers come from poorer or migrant backgrounds, noting that “the Swiss go to Coop and Migros, the foreigners come to us.”
Budget supermarkets value price of products over origin
So how do they get prices so cheap while still being based in Switzerland? The worker said that they “consistently purchase all of our products from the most cost-effective suppliers. We put a lot of work into this.” Alima managing director Ahmet Yilmaz added that “careful cost management” is one of the main reasons for the lower prices.
In practice, this means that the stores are generally smaller and less well-equipped than Coop and Migros. Danish Khawaja, the son of one of the founders of Barkat, said that unlike Swiss brands, “Regionalism doesn’t play a big role”, meaning that they often import cheaper products from abroad instead of getting them from Switzerland - most of their fruits and vegetables are from the Netherlands, for example.
Local stores have lower profit margins, owners claim
Finally, Khawaja claimed that they do not mark up products as much as other supermarkets, noting that their maximum margin is set at 50 percent and only for the most expensive items. Indeed, Swiss supermarkets have been criticised for high margins in the past, with a 2022 study from the Federation of Consumers in the Romande finding that Coop can charge a 95-percent markup on some goods.
Coop committed to cutting the cost of shopping
Responding to the Tages-Anzeiger, a spokesperson for Coop said that they were committed to offering goods at “fair and market-based prices.” “This year alone we have already reduced the price of 1.000 products in a challenging economic environment. We assume that we will be able to make further price reductions this year,” the Coop spokesperson concluded. For their part, Migros said they were unable to comment on the findings.
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