Finnish travellers continue strong consumption in Estonia. However, the attraction of Estonia as the clothing shop for Finns is beginning to fade, and the range of services used by Finns is narrowing. Shopping trips are more and more focused on old favourite purchases where the price difference between Estonia and Finland is clear. Retrieving alcohol by car has also seen clear growth.

Finns travelling to Estonia no longer purchase a wide range of products and services during their trips; instead, the contents of their shopping basket are becoming increasingly restricted. This is shown in the new survey conducted by the Finnish Commerce Federation, inspecting the consumption of Finnish travellers in Estonia.

Clothing and shoes are still among the favourite purchases, but are acquired more seldom than before. Among the favourite products, alcohol, sweets, food items, cosmetics and cigarettes have retained their position.

“The purchases show both the narrowing of the price difference between Estonia and Finland and the popularity of e-commerce. The purchases are clearly focused on the products where the price difference is still large or there is no significant e-commerce”, says Jaana Kurjenoja, Chief Economist of the Finnish Commerce Federation.

On average, Finnish travellers spend EUR 208 per traveller on products in Estonia and on the ferry trip. The highest spenders are those who import alcohol by car. Indeed, alcohol continues to be the most important factor for attracting Finnish visitors; just over 80 per cent of all travellers brought back alcohol to Finland. An increasingly large number of people retrieve alcohol by car. In 2012, those retrieving alcohol by car accounted for 21 per cent of people purchasing alcohol, whereas last year, their share was as much as 42 per cent.

Use of services in a downtrend

Price was a significant reason for travel for 68 per cent of all travellers to Estonia last year, whereas 50 per cent of travellers responded similarly a couple of years ago. The attraction of the prices can be explained with the fact that the prices of consumer goods are approximately 75 per cent of those in Finland. Lower prices are a particular draw for same-day visitors and those who import alcohol using a vehicle, but jobseekers, students and those purchasing cigarettes were also more likely than other groups to travel to Estonia due to lower prices. As price awareness has increased among travellers, the use of services has narrowed.

“Perhaps Finns are so experienced in their travels to Estonia that they no longer seek new service experiences. The opera, spa, and mansion tours have all been seen, and now the tourists are focusing on the real attraction of Estonia: shopping”, speculates Kurjenoja.

Estonia sees a great deal of visitors from Southern Finland. According to the survey, two thirds of the Finns visiting Estonia live in Southern Finland. They travel to Estonia more than once a year, but only stay for a short period of time, unlike people travelling from other areas of Finland.

Most of the tourists in Estonia have visited the country before. For instance, all the OAPs who visited Estonia in the beginning of the year had visited the country before and were planning to visit again later that year. Of all those travelling to Estonia, as many as 95 per cent plan to travel there again within the year; even among those living in Northern Finland the figure was as high as 82 per cent.

The strong attraction of Estonia speaks of strong international competition and the development of purchasing power.

“One of the most important tasks of the new government is to ensure that our country stays in the competition. Right now, high taxation and large administrative expenses cause extra weight to the competitive strength of Finnish commerce and services. Commerce requires equal operational prerequisites in order to fare in the competition with international operators. The purchasing power of citizens must also be secured”, summarises Juhani Pekkala, Managing Director of the Finnish Commerce Federation.

Background information on the survey:

The Finnish Commerce Federation report is based on an online panel conducted by TNS Gallup (n = 2,761), the statistics of Eurostat, Statistics Estonia and Statistics Finland, as well as border interviews conducted by TAK Oy. The interviews were carried out from April 2014 to March 2015 and involved 4,166 ferry passengers travelling between Tallinn and Helsinki.


Finnish consumer behaviour in Estonia survey

For further information, please contact:

Jaana Kurjenoja, Chief Economist, Finnish Commerce Federation, tel: +358 (0)9 1728 5134, jaana.kurjenoja(at)
Juhani Pekkala, Managing Director, Finnish Commerce Federation, t. +358 (0)400 419 560, juhani.pekkala(at)

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