"The stores are fucking stoooopid here. I hate that nothing is open past six cause I like to shop at night. Open your stores and make some MONEY you idiots."
I came across the above quote on a Swiss expat forum before I ever left Canadian soil. And though perhaps not always voiced quite as eloquently as was managed by this talented wordsmith, the lack of 'convenient' shopping is a grudge that many expats hold against Switzerland.
In Kamloops I could shop on Sundays, I could go to the grocery store until midnight, and if I woke up at 3 o'clock in the morning and realized with burning fervour that I needed to rush to Wal-Mart to do some Christmas shopping, well: that was possible. Oh, and let's not forget that with the exception of Christmas Day, every single business was open on every single statutory holiday. In short, if I wanted to shop I could shop.
Because we are a society that if we aren't shopping and running around to different stores, we don't know what to do with ourselves. Stores pander to the North American consumer fire monster and try to make everything as convenient as possible so that we will happily keep throwing money at any person who wears a nametag and stands between us and the 'Move, I'm Trying To Speed' bumper sticker.
Soon-to-be-Swiss-expats who hail from countries that have consumer fire monsters stamping around, shopping hours here vary from canton to canton, but this is a generalization to know about Switzerland as a whole: No, you can't shop on statutory holidays; No, you can't go to the grocery store past six o'clock; Yes, your village Coop and post office will probably close for two hours in the middle of the day so the employees can break for lunch; and No, you will not be able to shop on a Sunday.
Deal with it.
The fact that stores are closed on Sundays is the biggest shopping grievance of disgruntled expats, and some people on the forums take it very personally that everything is closed on this one day. On this matter I have read forum complaints that range from people believing that it should be within their own right to decided when they will and will not shop, to people moaning that closed shops on Sundays make them feel sad because they're all alone in a strange country with nothing to do, and the Swiss are bastards for not caring about that.
But as people angrily decry that it should be their right to buy chicken and underpants past six o'clock or on Sundays, who they are conveniently forgetting about is the person who has to be working in that store in order to serve their consumer fetish. The Swiss have not forgotten about this person, and I can really appreciate this.
Switzerland's customer service philosophy isn't necessarily 'the customer is always right', and though the stores here are obviously meant to serve a consumer purpose, there is a limit to how much service they're going to provide you. We, the consumer, are not demi-Gods here in Switzerland. The people working in these retail shops and grocery stores have all been superbly trained and with such training comes a respect by their peers for a job well done, and a job well done demands job satisfaction. Not having to work late into the evenings, and getting one weekend day off every week that their family and friends also (on average) have off, contributes to job satisfaction because their personal life is prioritized, and I applaud the Swiss for this line in the sand. And though this line is moving, I hope that it doesn't waiver too much because I really respect this about Switzerland.
Of course the angry people on the forums, when finding somebody in favour of Switzerland's current shopping hours, immediately attack the lone voice of dissension by shouting SOME OF US WORK YOU KNOW, as though to imply that just because you don't have a problem with the store hours this must mean that you have nothing to do with your day but have it revolve around said hours. Sorry, angry forum users, but that's not a valid argument. A lot of Swiss people work weird hours, yet when you tell them about 24/hr shopping in North America, they look shocked and shake their head in general distaste.
Sure WE the expat coming from consumer fire monster countries might shake our heads at the 'disallusioned' Swiss because obviously they are so regimented here they can't open their minds to the wonders of round-the-clock shopping, but it is in my opinion that what convenient shopping has actually done is create a nation of people who are more quick to feel put-out when they can't have what they want when they want it.
And when you continue to carry this disgruntled prejudice around on your back in a different country that has a different lifestyle and different cultural priorities, well--that must be really inconvenient.