Despite a shortened season and closure of non-essential businesses, Swiss boardsports have come together in solidarity to help businesses stay afloat. Switzerland has still seen a market for boardpsort equipment/ apparel, albeit a much smaller one, due to the imposition of a semi-lockdown. By Fabien Grisel.
During this period of unprecedented planetary upheaval, the Swiss government took slightly different action from most of its neighbours when it came to confinement measures to combat the Covid-19 epidemic. In Switzerland, the so-called semi-confinement meant the following: from March 16, schools, leisure spaces, restaurant, bars and “non-essential” businesses were closed, citizens were asked to stay at home but were not forced to. Working from home was strongly advised to all companies able to put that in place but, again, without legal obligation. The Swiss retained the right to go outdoors but they were asked to do so as little as possible. Gatherings of over five people were forbidden and a physical distance of two metres had to be observed. The solution was therefore to count on a civic sense of responsibility rather than to prohibit and punish infringements, which seems to have worked pretty well compared to total confinement. Sporty people could still go out and do certain individual sports in the open air, as long as it didn’t require special infrastructure, while trying to limit the number of injuries, mindful of the critical situation unfolding in hospital emergency rooms. So walking, running, cycling or climbing were the escape routes for a small part of the population. With winter sport resorts closed, some people took advantage by going splitboarding and although this activity wasn’t formally prohibited, it was frowned upon. It’s understandable that this would be openly criticised given that we were enduring such a huge sanitary and economic crisis and when the government is asking the population to use their common sense and you have people doing sports that require you to make a journey, with the possibility of crossing paths with others and even getting injured. The end of the Swiss lockdown will be staggered over three phases, first was on April 27 when some services reopened (personal services and certain businesses), then on May 11 with schools and other businesses opening and finally on June 8 with some leisure facilities reopening.
On the whole, the Swiss population stayed at home, did some online yoga and binged on Netflix, eating a lot- and better- and they drank a lot… but not necessarily better! They bought more locally and also more online… All this while some were waiting for a return to normal, while others anticipated a truly massive change of consciousness amongst the population. In general, when it comes to boardsports, snowboarders were left wanting with the season being cut really short, with the small exception of the most dedicated of splitboarders. Surfers had never been so land-locked with the borders being closed (let’s hope for a private wavegarden for the next epidemic…) while skateboarders should have been able to make the most of it, finding quiet spots or working on their flatland.
An extraordinary situation with extraordinary measures and like in a lot of countries, Switzerland has helped its citizens tackle the crisis through aid, loans and partial unemployment. But it’s also interesting to note the surges of solidarity that this crisis has brought out, from a sanitary and social point of view on one side (volunteers for elderly people for example) and economically on the other. For this we have seen many fundraisers and supportive aid of all kinds. In our world we saw donation platforms set up for the most affected businesses as well as innovative projects and collaborations. The first of two examples of this is a commendable gesture from Soerfi Schweingruber, owner of SKATE.CH/illUMATE, online shop and skateboarding distributor, who committed to sharing all the contribution margins of sales from SKATE.CH with the skateboard shops who were forced to close during physical shop closures. Well done Soerfi! Another example is the collaboration of QOQA.ch with the insurance companies Vaudoise Assurance and the Groupe Mutuel who teamed up to help small businesses. Qoqa.ch is the leader of flash sales in Switzerland, their network and exposure is immense and their participation means you can reach a lot of people through the platform. This partnership offers a chance for small businesses to register on the Direqt.ch site set up for the occasion and to put vouchers and coupons for their services and products up for sale. This concerns products or services that are either to be collected or used as soon as the businesses reopen or to be fetched/have delivered as soon as they can be. The system is set up so that for a voucher worth 100CHF, consumers only pay 90CHF but the shop receives 120CHF with the difference being provided by the aforementioned insurance companies. Qoqa.ch doesn’t take any commission for these transactions. At the end of April, over 4000 businesses, a large number being sports shops, registered on the site to sell their vouchers. A clever initiative!
To conclude, we can say that overall despite the situation, participants of our favourite sports haven’t been stopped completely and we have even seen people skating in deserted streets as well as a decent number of splitboarders touring in our mountains. When it comes to sales, skateboarding is holding up OK, if not well, and after the closure of physical shops, online sales have increased, which has also faced criticism since it leads to more journeys from delivery companies and postal workers, which in turn increases risk. For the moment it is obviously too early to draw any conclusions but this crisis is sure to carry heavy consequences. The next important date in Switzerland is on May 11 when the shops reopen.