The number of visits Finns made to Estonia grew last year. However, visitor types and consumer behaviour seem to be changing, while alcohol purchases are decreasing. Purchasing services seems to be increasing as well. For Finnish service-providing businesses to be able to compete in the international market, their prerequisites for operating must not be weakened by tax policy.

Finns suffering from weakened purchasing power often travel to Estonia for cheaper prices. According to a report by the Finnish Commerce Federation, visits Finns made to Estonia increased by 6 percent from the previous year.

Estonia especially attracts Finnish women. When a year earlier the percentage of Finnish women travelling to Estonia was 53 percent, it has now increased to 58 percent. The overwhelming majority of visitors to Estonia come from Southern Finland. Southern Finland residents also increased the number of visits they make to Estonia more than others: the percentage of visitors from Southern Finland grew by 7 percentage points during the year.

Prices in Estonia especially attract day visitors

Even though visits are now made more often, they are also shorter than before. Also, less money is spent. According to the report, on average Finnish visitors spend EUR 189 per visitor on products in Estonia and on the ferry trip. Since last year, the amount of money spent decreased by EUR 19.

“Alcohol is clearly purchased less than before, while it is still the most popular purchase by far, of course. Along with alcohol, other products are also bought less often than before. Only cosmetics purchases increased last year,” says Jaana Kurjenoja, Chief Economist of the Finnish Commerce Federation.

However, the decrease in money spent doesn’t show in all visitors’ consumption. Those who travel to Estonia for cheaper prices buy nearly as much alcohol and tobacco as before and spend even more euros than before. While the year before last visitors attracted by cheap prices spent EUR 262 on their purchases, last year their spending exceeded EUR 300.

Estonia’s cheaper prices is the most important reason to travel for day visitors, and also for men.

Services are purchased more often

When looking only at the results from the first months of this year, the report shows that the visitor percentages of families with children and Southern Finland residents is growing. Also the consumer behaviour of Finnish visitors is changing.

“There have been fewer day visits than the previous year at the same time, and there is clearly an increase in visits that last for one or two nights. Also for the first time in many years, it looks as though Estonia is no longer just a shopping destination for Finns, but also a service provider,” says Kurjenoja.

In addition to hotel services, the use of spa and cultural services has clearly been increasing this year. At the same time, Finns have bought less alcohol, tobacco and sweets, as well as everything else.

“International e-commerce competes for Finnish consumers with Estonia as well, and Finns don’t make visits only to go shopping as easily as before. But the affordable services seem to attract Finns for short vacations,” says Kurjenoja.

The Managing Director of the Finnish Commerce Federation, Juhani Pekkala, gives a reminder that unlike it is often thought, commerce and services also compete internationally.

“Indirect taxation and increasing regulation must not raise the level of costs and weaken the competitiveness of Finnish commerce when compared to foreign e-commerce or tourism businesses in Estonia. The government must take this into account in their decision making,” Pekkala says.

Tutkimus- ja Analysointikeskus TAK Oy conducted 3,354 border interviews on ferries operating between Tallinn and Helsinki between 1 April 2015 and 31 March 2016. In addition, statistics from Eurostat and Statistics Finland have been utilised in the report.

Further information:

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

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