Finland alcohol sales remain steady during pandemic

Alcoholic beverage sales have remained steady in Finland during the Covid-19 pandemic, according to new stats from monopoly retailer Alko.

The state-owned retailer reported 23% year-on-year sales growth during April, with rosé wine leading the charge.

Alko normally accounts for 75% of Finland’s sales by volume, with 10% going through the on-trade and 15% a result of booze cruising, known as “passenger imports”.

Bars and restaurants were closed on April 4, while international travel has been severely restricted since March 19, so those channels have essentially disappeared during the crisis.

Finns have turned to the off-trade instead to keep them refreshed during the lockdown.

Wine is the country’s most popular alcohol drinks category. Rosé sales increased 40% during April, while red wine sales grew 35% and white wine was up 28% compared to April 2019.

Finland eased some of its restrictions on May 4, and restaurants can start reopening on June 1. Social distancing restrictions will apply, and bars will not be able to welcome more than 50 guests at a time.

Alko looks set to continue enjoying double-digit year-on-year sales growth until the on-trade returns to full strength and international travel opens up again.

Alcohol sales contribute roughly €1.5 billion to the total annual tax revenue in Finland, and the country should receive a boost as more volume is now going through its monopoly retailer.

In 2018, per capita alcohol consumption in Finland amounted to roughly 9 litres per capita, down from a peak of 10.5 litres on 2005, according to OECD data.