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Shopping tourism

Interview with Martin Sturzenegger, Director Zurich Tourism

Ariane Früh spoke with Martin Sturzenegger.

Martin Sturzenegger is Director of Zürich Tourism (Source: M. Sturzenegger).

What are the most important trends and challenges regarding shopping tourism in Zurich?

There is no shopping tourism per se in Zurich, as is the case in Menziken or Landquart. Switzerland is a very expensive country and you rarely come to Switzerland for shopping. But in tourism, shopping plays a major role. Every tourist who comes to the city also shops. It is a symbiosis. But tourists come to Zurich primarily because of the cultural offer or a specific event. The reason for the trip is actually rarely the shopping. For this reason, the challenges are to be found in retail itself and not in shopping tourism. For tourism, it is important how the trade is structured and that there is an interesting offer. The latter is very good in Zurich. The challenge is to keep the business alive and revive the retail trade. The difficulties are the strong franc and the local conditions. The business is operated in Zurich, and that costs more here than elsewhere. Digitalization also plays a certain role in shopping tourism. But I would consider them to be subordinate. Tourists get inspired in the local shops and buy the product. As a result, tourism is also important for trade.

Which needs of tourists in the retail sector will become more important or develop in the future?

The experience as a whole is becoming increasingly important. This applies to both tourists and locals. It is certainly at the center of the needs. Jelmoli and Globus, for example, rely on the right concept by creating an entire shopping world that represents an experience. Since shopping plays an important role in leisure activities the longer, the whole experience must be right. It requires a comprehensive range of advice, shopping and gastronomy. You have to be able to linger, be inspired. In addition, there will be more and more hybrids between inspiration, advice and buying. This means that you move away from classic shopping, where you have 3-4 products to choose from and then buy one of them. With hybrid shopping, you look at the product in the store on the one hand, but also online and get inspired on both channels before you buy it. Tourists will also increasingly shop hybrid in the future

Where will tourists shop in Zurich in the future?

Zurich is already the perfect shopping center. The city is clear, compact, everything is close to each other and, unlike the big malls, the offer is authentic and incredibly versatile. For young hip tourists, the shops in the viaduct arches will gain in importance. This is a future magnet that we can market. Europaallee is also one of them. Tourists always move in streams and as a result, shops that are off the beaten track do not even get on their radar. Digitalization offers a great opportunity here. For example, an app that informs about shops that are located off the beaten track would be a good idea. I see a second chance in the better management of inventories: If the customer sees something online, then he has to come to terms with the fact that he cannot have the product immediately. If he could display on an app in which store the product is immediately available, this would be a great opportunity for brick-and-mortar retailers.

What are the effects of the change in retail on urban tourism in Zurich?

For tourism, small-scale changes in the retail trade, as they are taking place today, are not relevant. Tourists use the existing offer. But this must be good and it must not thin out. So empty shops act as a deterrent for tourism.

How do you assess the current framework conditions of the city of Zurich?

I would describe the current framework conditions as good. The tourists come, shop and feel comfortable. Europaallee is in the process of developing and will certainly work well for tourism. I don't think the city can do much in this regard. A lot is going on, new stores with innovative store concepts are opening up and a certain dynamic can be observed. This shows that the framework conditions are very good.

Which framework conditions would be necessary and desirable in the future?

From the point of view of tourists, it is rather difficult to understand that on Sundays the shops in Zurich are not open. In most countries, shopping is one of the main leisure activities. So it's incomprehensible that you can't shop on a day off. I am convinced that a Sunday sale would greatly revive the retail trade in the city. A revival of the Löwenstrasse is certainly another desirable development. The street has to live, people have to like to go there and there has to be an attractive offer. Finally, it is important to note that tourism will not compensate local buyers. It will remain tough for retail in the city of Zurich. The offer in the shops must also be attractive for Zurich residents.


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