Mixed retailers in Switzerland experienced another challenging year in 2016. As the Swiss franc appreciated further following the lifting of the franc-Euro exchange rate cap by the Swiss Central Bank in January 2015, the cost of products sold through Swiss retailers increased further. This development resulted in cross-border shopping or consumer tourism, a trend that continued to negatively impact the category resulting in value sales shrinking. This was particularly evident for department stores, which in Switzerland traditionally have a mid to high price positioning and which are located near the German or French border. In 2015 for example, Manor, the leading department store operated by Maus Frères AG, announced that it had to cut 150 jobs because consumer tourism was negatively impacting its sales.
The Manor department store chain was the largest in mixed retailers in 2016. Manor offers a broad range of private label products, mostly with a mid-priced positioning. Categories with private label products include clothing, sports goods, food as well as furniture and furnishings. Second ranked player was Coop City with a low-to mid-price positioning. Coop City outlets are often a combination of various Coop fascias. They usually include a grocery department (a normal Coop supermarket), an Import Parfümerie and sometimes a branch of the jeweller Christ. Coop City outlets are mostly located in city centres. In 2015, Coop City launched a new concept design: Bellacasa, a modern, fresh and emotive shop design.
Over the forecast period mixed retailers is set to continue to see a decline in sales and importance within retailing. One of the biggest threats will likely come from the shift to internet retailing. Price competition and consumer tourism are likely to continue to shape the retailing environment in Switzerland as long as the country is viewed as a “high-price island”. Initiatives have been launched in order to identify new ways to keep local customers loyal. The Basel trade union, for example, asked the authorities to loosen regulations, which also put Swiss retailers at a disadvantage.
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