UPDATED: Switzerland’s Migros overturns ban on alcohol sales

The management of Swiss supermarket Migros has cleared the way for outlets to sell alcohol, for the first time in the company’s 100-year history.

The familiar orange lettering of Swiss supermarket chain Migros
Swiss supermarket chain Migros. Photo: FABRICE COFFRINI / AFP

Delegates from Swiss supermarket Migros have voted in favour of allowing the company’s 630 outlets to sell alcohol. 

The decision, passed by a majority of 85 to 22, allows the company’s regional cooperative organisations to decide whether or not they want to sell alcohol. 

Migros was founded in 1925 by Swiss businessman Gottlieb Duttweiler with the proviso that the supermarket would not sell alcohol and tobacco. 

As The Local Switzerland revealed in a recent article, while Duttweiler did this under a special pledge of upholding public health “against excessive consumption of cheap brandy and fruit schnapps”, in reality his decision was motivated by self-interest as he saw a special opportunity as a result of the growing prohibition movement. 

EXPLAINED: The real reason Swiss supermarket Migros doesn’t sell alcohol

In fact, while it may seem like a seismic shift, the company has been selling alcohol through a variety of loopholes for decades. 

Migros subsidiaries Migrolino and Denner both sell alcohol and cigarettes, while Migros itself currently sells alcohol and tobacco via the internet under the Le Shop banner.

When will I see booze on my shelves in Migros? 

As with anything in Switzerland, things take a while.

Migros outlets are governed by ten regional cooperatives, who need to decide whether or not they will allow their outlets to sell alcohol. 

The pledge against selling alcohol has been popular for Migros, particularly in more conservative areas, so there is the chance that some cooperatives will opt to stick with the status quo. 

If the cooperatives do however decide to implement the relaxed rules, the outlets will then begin to stock their shelves with beer and wine. 

Tobacco on the other hand will remain forbidden, meaning you won’t see cigarettes on Migros shelves any time soon

This will not happen until June 2022 at the earliest, Migros confirmed, due to an internal voting process among the cooperatives. 

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Why are Swiss people among the happiest in the world?

Even though the news has been mostly depressing in the past two years, Switzerland’s residents have found the proverbial silver lining amid dark clouds. This is what makes them happier than residents of most countries.

Why are Swiss people among the happiest in the world?

For the 10th year in a row, Switzerland’s population ranks among the most content by the World Happiness Report, a publication of the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network that draws on global survey data from people in about 150 countries.

In the just-released 2022 edition, Switzerland is ranked fourth globally, just below three Scandinavian nations: Finland (1), Denmark (2), and Iceland (3). Sweden and Norway are in the seventh and eighth place, respectively.

Switzerland’s neighbours, however, didn’t even make it to the top-10. Austria is in the 11th position, Germany in the 14th, France in the 20th, and Italy in the 28th.

Why is Switzerland rated so highly?

Clearly, happiness and well-being are subjective terms, inherent to each individual, and as such they can’t be measured scientifically.

“Our measurement of subjective well-being continues to rely on three main indicators: life evaluations, positive emotions, and negative emotions”, the report said. “Happiness rankings are based on life evaluations as the more stable measure of the quality of people’s lives”.

Researchers used seven categories to assess each country’s contentment level: Dystopia (evaluating how much better life is in a given country in comparison to ones with bad living conditions); perception of corruption in a country; generosity; freedom to make life choices; healthy life expectancy; social support; and GDP per capita.

Switzerland ranks especially well —  (better than higher-ranked Finland, Denmark and Iceland) in terms of its GDP, and also in regards to how respondents view their overall quality of life and living conditions when with compared with other nations.

The “social support” category is also highly rated by survey participants, as is healthy life expectancy and freedom to make choices.

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It fares less well, however, in the generosity category (as do most countries) and perception of corruption.

Switzerland is no stranger to high scores (both positive and negative) in various international rankings, ranging from quality of life and competitiveness, to cost of living.

You can find more about those topics here:

Switzerland named ‘world’s best destination for expats’

Zurich ranked world’s best city for ‘prosperity and social inclusion’

It’s official: Switzerland is the world’s ‘most competitive’ country