Finland: Alcohol Retail Monopoly Sees Sales Surge

In Finland the government-run alcohol retail monopoly ‘Alko’ sees a sales surge during the COVID-19 state of emergency in the country.

Finland declared a state of emergency on March 16, 2020 and closed its borders to non-essential travel on March 19. Bars, cafés and restaurants, have not been allowed to serve eat-in patrons since April 4.

During the first month under the state of emergency, Alko reports,

  • it sold a total of 9.1 million litres of alcoholic beverages representing an increase of 23% compared to sales in 2019,
  • sales of rosé wines increased by 40%, red wine increased by 35% and white wine increased by 28% while sparkling wine sale fell by 2%, and
  • there was a 5% increase in customers.

The alcohol retail monopoly has attributed the increase in sales to a decline in trips abroad, the closures of bars and restaurants, as well as Easter holidays and May Day. Bars and restaurants, usually account for about 10% and passenger imports for about 15% of total alcohol consumption in Finland.

In 2019, Finland was just seeing a 2.6% decrease in retail alcohol sales in Alko and grocery stores. However, Alko has said they don’t believe the new increase will sustain permanently. 

The sales increases at Alko come in a context of worrying signs of rising alcohol harm already before the current public health crisis. As Movendi International reported in the beginning of the year, data show that alcohol harm – which was decreasing till 2018 – has begun to increase in Finland.

Finland: Alcohol Harm Is Rising (Again)