Vice Squad
Saturday, March 13, 2004
Update on Finnish Alcohol

Prices for alcohol in Finland took a tumble on March 1, as the Finnish authorities lowered taxes to forestall personal liquor imports from Estonia. (The two previous Vice Squad posts on this development are here (March 4) and here (February 29).) The initial report was that the lower prices didn't seem to be having much effect, but that has changed. The biggest impact seems to be occurring at retail establishments near the Swedish border. Sweden has maintained its high alcohol taxes, and now Finland has joined Denmark as an alcohol supplier to day-tripping Swedes. (In Finland, incidentally, the state operates the alcohol retail distribution network, with stores names "Alko".) From this article published on Friday in a Finland newspaper:

"Customers from as far as Central Sweden flocked to Tornio to stock up on fairly large quantities of booze. 'Swedish krona now account for 60% of our turnover, whereas normally it is just five percent', says Juha Ohtonen, manager of the Tornio Alko.

The Tornio Alko was almost sold out on the first Friday of March. The small sales outlets in Southern Ostrobothnia also had to struggle to keep enough bottles in stock on the first Saturday of the lower prices.

When some brands did run out in Tornio, many Swedish customers drove on to Keminmaa 20 kilometres away."

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