The wage level in Switzerland is significantly higher than in Germany. This makes working in Switzerland a very attractive option for German workers, who can combine high Swiss wages and salaries with comparatively low German living costs. Its attractiveness is not significantly affected by the longer working hours and shorter holiday periods in Switzerland. Accordingly, companies in Germany compete with companies in Switzerland for the lack of skilled labour.
Against this background and in view of the enormous appeal of the pharmaceuticals industry in Basel, the continuous growth in the number of permits for frontier workers being issued in Lörrach from 2001 onwards is not surprising. In 2018, 5,294 Lörrachers commuted across the border to Switzerland every day. In Lörrach district, a total of 21,334 commuters crossed the border.
An analysis of destination cantons shows that some 3,000 commuters from the town of Lörrach commute across the border into the canton of Basel-Stadt. The cantons of Basel-Landschaft and Aargau are also attractive for cross-border workers. Even more distant cantons, like the canton of Zurich, receive 100 commuters from Lörrach every day. Most foreign workers in Switzerland work in the manufacturing, trade and healthcare sectors.
From Lörrach, you can easily travel to three countries in just one day and immerse yourself into three different cultures and their languages. Not only do the cuisines from Baden, Alsace and Switzerland provide for especially pleasurable moments, the border triangle also offers art lovers countless museums, fairs and exhibitions at the highest level. The Black Forest, Vosges and Jura Mountains invite you to take a breath of fresh air, explore the countryside and exercise.
The level of prices in retail and other services like gastronomy is significantly higher in neighbouring Switzerland than in Germany. This is something that the entire Upper Rhine region benefits from. With its above-average quality number of retail outlets, which, in turn, is an effect of being located on the border, Lörrach has the potential to develop into a great attraction.
While the exchange rate between the Swiss francs and Euro was still 1.67 in October 2007,
it dropped to 1.13 in July 2011 as a result of the economic and financial crisis, was then propped up by the Swiss National Bank at 1.20 from September 2011 onwards and then dropped to 1.03 again after it was released in January 2015. In June 2019, the price was 1.12.
This price development has an impact on retail sales in the town of Lörrach. Based on surveys performed on behalf of the town of Lörrach in 2015, the office of Dr.
Acocella determined a significant increase in the share of sales from Switzerland from 19% in 2008 to 28.3% in 2015. In absolute terms, this represents a doubling of sales from 77 million euros to 154 million euros.
This development is also reflected in the increase in the customs slips, or what are referred to as "green slips" stamped by customs that customers from Switzerland can use to claw back German VAT of 19% (7% on food and books) when they make their next purchase in a shop.
Both the inflow of purchasing power from Switzerland and the increase in cross-border commuters and the associated increase in the population are having an impact on the demand for space in the town of Lörrach, primarily in the retail sector and secondly in the residential sector. Rising real estate prices reflect the competition for available land. The negative interest rate environment provides additional incentives to invest in real estate, including for Swiss investors. This also increases the pressure to convert commercial areas, especially in mixed areas. The Urban Planning department needs to keep an eye on this chain of impact in order to safeguard the existing commercial sector.
For more information on the border situation, please refer to Section 2.3 of the report "Update to the
Commercial space development concept for the town of Lörrach". (FGFK, final report from: 09/05/2017)