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Alcohol sales cut in half

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PHOTO: Eero Vabamägi

Recent alcohol excise duty hikes and cross-border trade with Latvia have hit Estonian traders hard. Sales have been cut in half in some regions.

“We have not experienced such a sharp slump in alcohol sales in the past decade,” said press representative of retail chain Rimi Katrin Bats. “Sparkling wines make up the only category where sales are still climbing,” she said.

Sale of strong alcohol has fallen the most, followed closely by sale of beer.

Bats said that regional differences manifest the most clearly in the south.

“The reason for this is the close vicinity of Latvia where alcohol is much cheaper,” the press representative said. Alcohol turnover has been cut in half in Valga shops and fallen by approximately 30 percent in Pärnu.

Alcohol sales are dwindling both in terms of volume and financially also in Selver stores.

The effects of price advance have been greater on strong alcohol, with sales down by 10 percent.

“Volumes have dropped the most; price advance has mitigated the financial effect somewhat,” said head of Selver Kristi Lomp.

The slump is greater in Southern Estonia, where sales have dropped by up to two-thirds. Things are better in Central and Western Estonia, while the decline is more modest in Harju County and Virumaa.

“As concerns strong alcoholic beverages, preferences have shifted toward gin, whiskey, and liqueurs wines,” Lomp said.

Consumption of light alcoholic beverages is also affected by seasonality; for example, recent slump in cider sales is partly due to Estonia’s cool spring.

“To compare last year’s volumes to this year, sales have fallen the most in Southern Estonia - by almost 30 percent,” said press representative of Coop (A&O, Konsum, Maksimarket) Martin Miido.

Sale of strong alcohol has fallen by a third, sale of beer by 30 percent, wine and light alcohol sales are down by a fifth. Sale of alcohol has fallen by 10 percent for the whole of Estonia in Coop stores. Press representative of Maxima Katja Ljubobratets said that sales figures are affected by several factors, including, prominently, state alcohol policy and excise duty hikes. The latter is what results in price hikes and reduced consumption.

“The growing trend of cross-border trade is also affecting the sales figures of all retailers,” she added.

Decline in sales of alcohol differs by region in Maxima stores. Sales are down 20-40 percent, depending on different products, in the south of the country.

“If the sale of beer has fallen by nearly 5 percent on average, the change in Tallinn is only a few percentage points. While concerning ciders, we’re talking about a fall of 10 percent also in Tallinn,” Ljubobratets said.

The Estonian state budget missed out on €10 million in revenue lost to the cross-border alcohol rally last year.

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