Zürich, the largest city, is the commercial, financial, and industrial center of Switzerland. Basel is the second most important commercial city, followed by Geneva and Lausanne. Most Swiss wholesale firms are importers as well, specializing in one commodity or a group of related commodities.
The trend in retail trade is moving from independent establishments to larger supermarkets, department stores, and discount chains. As such, many small retailers have joined together to form purchasing cooperatives. As of 2002, there were over 150 franchise firms within the country, including domestic, American, and French investors. Companies sponsoring home shopping parties (Tupperware, Mary Kay, Body Shop, etc.) have also become very popular. Some agricultural products, such as butter, grains, and edible fats and oils, are subject to import controls and price controls apply to many goods and services. The use of electronic debit cards for purchases is growing rapidly.
Advertising, mostly entrusted to firms of specialists, uses as media billboards, movie theaters, television, local transportation facilities, railroads, newspapers, and magazines.
Usual business hours are from 8 AM to noon and, except on Saturdays, from 2 to 6 PM . Shops are normally open from 8 AM to 12:15 PM and from 1:30 to 6:30 PM on weekdays but only to 4 PM on Saturdays; some shops stay open at lunchtime but close on Monday mornings. Banks are open to the public from 8:30 AM to 4:30 PM Monday–Friday. The five-day workweek is becoming popular; the extent to which weekday working hours are lengthened depends on whether offices are closed every Saturday or only on alternate Saturdays.