Switzerland retains its reputation for luxury

Shops in Zurich's Bahnhofstrasse Ex-press

The Swiss cities of Zurich and Geneva are among the ten most expensive in the world for retail rents, a study released on Monday shows.

This content was published on January 28, 2008 - 13:48

According to Zurich-based Location Services Research, rents in Zurich's prestigious Bahnhofstrasse stand at SFr7,530 ($6,867) per square metre per year, while in Geneva's smartest shopping street, the rue du Rhône, the cost is SFr7,310.

The two streets are eighth and ninth in the world – although they are less than half as expensive as New York's Fifth Avenue, which heads the list at SFr16,304.

National and international retailers are queuing up to rent premises in the two Swiss cities, says Marc-Christian Riebe of Location Services Research.

"They recognise that most of their competitors are achieving their highest turnover in sales on the rue du Rhône in Geneva and the Bahnhofstrasse in Zurich. That's worldwide," Riebe told swissinfo.

Switzerland is also a country in which many people earn high salaries. "People are able to buy more than in other countries," he explained.

But wealthy Swiss are not alone in buying luxury items. Many of the customers come from Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Russia. People also come for the day from Germany and Switzerland's other neighbours.

US retailers

The study shows that American retailers are expanding in Switzerland. They include upmarket fashion, cosmetics and accessory outlets, as well as computer giant Apple, which is opening in Zurich this spring and in Geneva in autumn.

European luxury stores are also moving in. In Geneva six luxury brands have opened shop this winter.

According to Riebe, half the shops in the part of the Bahnhofstrasse at the main station end are still Swiss. But given that there is only a limited amount of space available, retailers are having to look elsewhere.

"That's a good sign," he said. "The side streets are developing more."

Although Zurich and Geneva have the most expensive rents in Switzerland, followed by the other major cities, some of the country's small luxury resorts, like St Moritz and Gstaad, are also attracting prestigious new clients.

St Moritz also has the densest concentration of luxury shops in Europe in its Via Serlas, with a rent of SFr3,190 per square metre.

As for people who cannot afford to shop in luxury outlets, the study shows a frenzy of building activity outside town centres, combining stores and leisure facilities.

swissinfo, Julia Slater

The world's most expensive retail streets

1. 5th Avenue, New York
2. Causeway Bay, Hong Kong
3. Madison Avenue, New York
4. Champs Elysées, Paris
5. East 57th St, New York
6. New Bond St, London
7. Ginza, Tokyo
8. Bahnhofstrasse, Zurich
9. Rue du Rhône, Geneva
10. Grafton St, Dublin

Source: Location Services Research

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