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High price island Swiss pay more for magazines and clothes than other countries

Magazine stand

Swiss consumers pay a premium to read their favourite titles - unless they go over the border to get a copy.

(Keystone / Martin Ruetschi)

Swiss consumers pay a “high price island” premium of up to 245% for magazines and clothing compared to prices being charged for the same goods in neighbouring countries. A consumer group study found the price differential to be higher in Italy and France than in Germany.

For many people living in Switzerland the findings of the Swiss Alliance of Consumer Associationsexternal link, together with watchdogs in the French and Italian-speaking regions of the country, will come as no surprise. In fact, they confirm the findings of similar studies going back to 2012.

The study found that the Swiss “surcharge” makes magazines on average 127% more costly than in Italy, 57% than in France and 51% than in Germany. The differential is even more alarming when looking at individual titles – the Italian car magazine Quattroruoteexternal link is 245% more expensive when sold over the border in the Swiss canton of Ticino.

Clothing is around 25% more expensive in Switzerland than in the three neighbouring countries, but again the price difference varies according to the label. Esprit Switzerlandexternal link charges an extra 32% for identical clothing than charged by the group in the other countries.

The authors of the report say the underlying price difference is even greater if consumer tax is taken out of the equation. VAT is lower in Switzerland than the three comparative countries.

The cost of many goods, from medicines to food and other consumer items, has traditionally been higher in Switzerland where people earn higher wages and retailers say costs are higher.

But these arguments do not wash with everyone. Last August, the Swiss government said it would act against supplier-importer cartels they accuse of rigging prices to the detriment of Swiss consumers.

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