The trend of carrying alcohol from Estonia is facing a downturn among Finns. However, those still partaking in the trend are carrying more alcohol than before. To control these 'booze trips', Finnish alcohol legislation should be reformed as soon as possible. All in all, the consumption of Finnish tourists in Estonia seems to remain unchanged. However, the international competition of e-commerce appears to be challenging Estonia as well, especially regarding shopping for clothes and footwear.

Booze trips to Estonia are showing no signs of slowing down. According to a report by the Finnish Commerce Federation, the amount of alcohol brought by Finnish tourists from Estonia has increased once again. Even though the trend of carrying alcohol from Estonia is facing a downturn among Finns, those still partaking in the trend are carrying more alcohol than before.

People travelling to Estonia by car in particular have increased the amount of alcohol they bring back to Finland. The number of Finns taking their vehicle for a booze trip has increased by approximately 17% from the previous year. Those bringing alcohol back in their vehicles are also spending more money on their product purchases than before. Now, about EUR 139 more was spent on product purchases compared to the average tourist, which is EUR 86 more than the previous year. The purchases were not restricted to alcohol; however, the contents of the shopping basket of those bringing alcohol back in their vehicles are often less varied than those of other tourists.

For those bringing back alcohol in their vehicles, the price level often plays a considerably larger role in their decision to travel than for other tourists. They also travel to Estonia more frequently than others: half of them travel to Estonia at least four times a year.

All in all, Finns spent a total of about EUR 700 million on shopping and services in Estonia last year. The figure is approximately the same as the previous year. However, there was a clear increase in consumption at the beginning of this year. A total of EUR 154 was spent on all product purchases early this year. That is EUR 27 more than at the beginning of last year. 

”During the first quarter of the year, the amount of alcohol purchased and brought back remained unchanged from the beginning of last year. If this continues throughout the year, it indicates that the trend of the past couple of years, whereby fewer and fewer tourists are going to Estonia to bring back alcohol, is coming to an end,” says Jaana Kurjenoja , Chief Economist at the Finnish Commerce Federation.

One solution for controlling the booze trips would be to modernise Finnish alcohol legislation. That is why it is important to bring the overall reform of alcohol legislation into effect as soon as possible. 

”The moderate reform of alcohol legislation which is currently underway is the right direction in decontrolling alcohol policy. As a result of the amendment, tax revenue in Finland would increase. The amendment would also be a welcome upgrade to Finnish commerce, balancing the competition on the shores of the Gulf of Finland,” says Kurjenoja.

E-commerce challenges Estonian prices

In addition to affordable alcohol purchases, Finns are drawn to Estonia by even more affordable services and household goods. The most popular services include restaurant, hotel and pharmaceutical services. Trips to the opera and theatre have also become increasingly popular. In addition, Finns are expected to have more overnight stays at hotels this year.

It appears that even Estonia cannot escape the effect of e-commerce. According to the latest price comparisons by Eurostat, the relative price difference in, for example, clothing and footwear between Estonia and Finland has narrowed down considerably. 

”Clothing and footwear are products heavily purchased through international e-commerce, and in these categories, the price level in Estonia is higher than the European average. International e-commerce challenges even Estonian shops to compete over both domestic consumers and shopping tourists,” says Jaana Kurjenoja.

The report by the Finnish Commerce Federation is based on statistical information provided by Eurostat, Statistics Estonia and Statistics Finland as well as two outsourced consumer surveys executed by TAK Oy, interviewing 2,744 tourists. 

Further information:

Jaana Kurjenoja, Chief Economist, Finnish Commerce Federation, tel. +358 (0)40 820 5378, jaana.kurjenoja@kauppa.fi

The Finnish Commerce Federation represents commerce – the largest sector of economic life.Commerce employs around 300,000 people in Finland. The Federation has around 7,000 member companies and represents both retail and wholesale commerce in industry policy and labour market lobbying. www.kauppa.fi