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COST OF LIVING

Seven products that are becoming more expensive in Switzerland

Covid and the war in Ukraine, coupled with rising inflation, made Switzerland even more expensive than it already was before. These are some of the goods you can expect to pay more for.

Furniture like this nice couch will be more expensive in Switzerland.Photo by Phillip Goldsberry on Unsplash Photo by Phillip Goldsberry on Unsplash
Furniture like this nice couch will be more expensive in Switzerland.Photo by Phillip Goldsberry on Unsplash Photo by Phillip Goldsberry on Unsplash

The good news — if we can call it that — is that inflation rate in Switzerland, which stood at 2.6 percent in April, is significantly lower than in neighbouring France (5.4 percent) and Germany (7.8 percent), as well as throughout much of Europe.

However, Swiss consumers are already feeling the increase in prices of many common purchases.

News platform Watson has listed seven goods and services that now cost more, basing its analysis on the national index of consumer prices (LIK), which measures the inflation of consumer goods in Switzerland.

Among the products that are now more expensive are:

Raw materials

Energy prices, including petrol, oil and gas, have increased in recent weeks. “We are currently paying around 77 percent more for heating oil compared to January 2019”, according to Watson.

A litre of petrol currently costs 2.05 francs, versus 1.60 francs in August 2021.

“A recovery is currently not in sight”, Watson added.

READ MORE: How Covid, Ukraine and energy costs are changing Swiss spending habits

Wood

Wood prices started to go up already during the Covid pandemic in 2020, rising by staggering  500 percent from May 2020 to May 2021.

One of the reasons is that wood pellets can also be used for heating.

“The war has not only made the raw material more expensive, but also the production of the pellets”, according to Andreas Keel, Managing Director of Holzenergie Schweiz, who added that in October a tonne of pellets cost 280 francs, and in January it rose to 360 francs.

What certainly doesn’t help matters is that Russia is one of the world’s largest wood exporters and the sanctions currently in place against this country are exacerbating this shortage.

READ MORE: Switzerland extends sanctions on Russian assets

Furniture

If you are looking for a new sofa, table or another piece of furniture, now is not a good time to purchase them, as their cost has risen by around 15 percent. One reason, as stated above, is the higher price of wood, but there are other contributing factors as well.

“The Swedish furnishing giant Ikea increased its prices by an average of 9 percent at the end of 2021. With a market share of 11 percent, Ikea is one of the big players in Switzerland”, Watson said.

Food

While food amounts to only 6.3 percent of an average household budget, it is probably the most important, as nobody can live without it.

The main reason for the increase is that Ukraine exports foodstuffs such as grain, which affects not only prices of products like baked goods and pasta, but also the cost of animal feed — the latter being essential for the production meat and dairy.

Clothing

Clothing prices typically increase in April / May, but this year they rose more than usual.

The war and Covid-related delivery issues are main factors, but the worst is yet to come, according to Andreas Bartmann, vice-president of  the industry association of textile retailers.

“In the fall, [price hikes] will hit us massively,” he said.

READ MORE: How to protect your savings against inflation in Switzerland

Transportation

“Anyone who wants to buy a new car currently has to pay around 10 percent more than in January 2019”, Watson said.

And this increase is likely to continue, mainly due to higher costs of  raw materials and general delivery problems.

Opting for the used-car market is not a solution either, Watson noted, as “the prices there rose even more significantly than for new cars due to the excess demand”.

You could opt for a new motorcycle or bike, but there too prices are expected to climb — also due to shortage of raw materials and delivery bottlenecks.

Travel

Now that Covid restrictions have been lifted in most countries, foreign travel may remain inaccessible for many people anyway,  because it became more expensive.

One major reason is that, with fuel now costing more, airlines are increasing the price of tickets.

By the same token, the price of petrol could make driving to your holiday destination costlier as well.

Your best bet may be to just stay home. It will feel like 2020 all over again, but without the masks.

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For members

COST OF LIVING

Cost of living: How you can beat Switzerland’s inflation blues?

With inflation, and consequently the cost of living, continuing to rise, many consumers find it necessary to spend less than they used to. But is it possible to cut the cost of living in an expensive country like Switzerland?

Cost of living: How you can beat Switzerland's inflation blues?

In April, Switzerland’s inflation rate stood at about 2.6 percent, but it climbed to 3.4 percent in June.

That’s a significant increase, but the good news (at least for the Swiss) is that this rate is still lower than in many other countries in Europe, where it hovers around 8.6 percent.

Nevertheless, Swiss consumers have noticed that their already high cost of living is climbing upwards in line with increasing inflation, and many commonly used products and services have become even more expensive in the past months.

READ MORE: Seven products that are becoming more expensive in Switzerland

It is, however, possible to cut the cost of living somewhat and save money in the process.

Switzerland’s Blick newspaper asked a consumer expert to offer some common-sense tips to help households in Switzerland get more bang out of their franc in these inflationary times.

These are some areas where costs can be cut:

Insurance

According to Sara Stalder, director of the Foundation for Consumer Protection, “it is worth examining your insurance portfolio”, to see where savings could be made.

As health insurance premiums are among the highest expenditures of a typical household, switching to another carrier could cost you less.

You won’t be able to switch until January 2023 (notifying your insurance company of the change by November 30th), but if you do your research now, you’ll be able to save as much as several hundred francs in annual premiums per person in the new year.

READ MORE: Why Swiss patients pay too much for healthcare

Calling and internet

While the costs of telecommunications (internet, mobile phones) have not risen significantly in Switzerland, Stalder advises to seek out “interesting offers that are only available to new customers.”

Also, since streaming services could become more expensive in the near future in the aftermath of the May 15th referendum, this may be a good time to examine whether some platforms you subscribe to (Netflix, Apple TV, Amazon Prime, etc.) should be cancelled.

Weeding out your streaming platforms will cut costs. Photo by freestocks on Unsplash

Credit cards

As The Local reported on July 4th, there are significant differences in annual costs of credit cards, and you can save quite a bit by switching from one card to another.

A recent study by an independent online comparison service Moneyland showed that “occasional users could save 560 francs and frequent users could see savings of more than 830 francs in the first two years if they were to switch to cheapest cards”.

You can find out more about credit card savings here:

Huge differences’: How you can save money on Swiss credit cards

Buy seasonal products

We have gotten used to having a variety of fruits and vegetables available all year round, but this convenience comes at a price.

Fruits and vegetables that are not in season in Switzerland right now (for instance, strawberries and grapes) are imported and therefore more expensive than local produce.

However, many grocery shops have special promotions on fruits that are in season in Switzerland right now, so this staying away from imports could be another way to save money.

And while you are shopping… avoid prepared foods

Sure, it’s easier to pick up a bag of grated carrots than buying them in bulk and grating them yourself, but the price difference could add up if you are used to buying ready-to-eat ,pre-packaged food rather than preparing it yourself.

This may require a change in habits but could also save money in the long-term.

A money-saving move. Image by DaModernDaVinci from Pixabay 

This may be a no-brainer but we have to say it anyway: save on energy!

Energy prices have skyrocketed since Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022 and are expected to soar further.

READ MORE: Switzerland faces 20 percent increase in electricity costs

As these costs constitute a major expenditure in a household budget, reducing your energy costs is essential, especially if you are a home or apartment owner and have to pay these charges yourself.

These are some ways to reduce your energy consumption, according to a consumer site bonus.ch:

  • Use heat in moderation, setting the temperature according to the size of the room and how often it is being used. Unoccupied rooms should not be heated at all.
  • Turn off the light when leaving a room (this advice is logical and reasonable, and yet many people neglect to do so).
  •  Shut down electrical appliances such as TV and computers completely when not in use, or even unplug them altogether.
  • Use appliances with the energy label “A”, LED lamps and energy-saving bulbs, avoiding devices with high energy consumption, such as aquariums and fans.

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