Why shop locally when you can step across the German or French border and save 20%? Swiss shops are among the losers of the decision by Switzerland’s central bank to abandon the minimum franc-euro exchange rate. (SRF/swissinfo.ch)
Around 20,000 people live in Riehen in Basel. Shop owners are powerless and can’t influence the exchange rate, but they are working together with unions and the community to devise new ways to keep local customers loyal.
The Basel trade union is asking the authorities to loosen regulations, which they say also put Swiss shops at a disadvantage.
Like Basel most border regions are suffering. From Geneva in the southwest to Schaffhausen and Thurgau in the northeast. The town of Kreuzlingen is losing customers to the neighbouring German town of Constance. Over the past few months four long-standing shops had to close and more will follow.
Some businesses that do well, despite the cross-border competition. Like Silvia Cornel’s travel office which opened up two years ago. She manages to offer her products at euro fares. But not all retailers can offer their goods at euro prices.