The Finns spent a record amount of money in Estonia once again last year. The cheaper prices in Estonia are particularly attractive to families with children and to people who travel to Estonia often. Not all consumption increased last year, however. Spending significantly decreased in some product groups.

The Finns spent a record sum of EUR 501 million in Estonia last year, increasing their consumption by 8% from 2011. Growth has slightly slowed down from the past two years, but is clearly faster than the average growth rate of the 21st century.

According to a survey* conducted by the Finnish Commerce Federation, the cheaper prices in Estonia constitute an increasingly significant incentive for the Finns who travel to their Southern neighbour state. Up to half of the Finns who visited Estonia in the past year reported to have been attracted by lower prices. The corresponding percentage three years ago was 37. Prices constitute a particularly significant deciding factor for families with children. However, the most price‑conscious group are the people who travel to Estonia often.

“In the past three years, the local price level has become a dramatically more significant incentive for people who travel to Estonia often. They report that this significance will increase in the future. It will be interesting to see how increased consumption taxation in Finland manifests in the behaviour of these extremely price‑conscious consumers,” says Jaana Kurjenoja, Chief Economist at the Finnish Commerce Federation.

The more price‑conscious travellers buy more alcohol, foodstuffs and medicines in Estonia than occasional tourists. The importing of medicines has decreased the most since last year. The import of shoes also saw a big drop. Sweets are an increasingly common purchase, however.

“The sugar tax is beginning to be reflected in the shopping behaviour of tourists travelling to Estonia. This was a surprising development revealed by this year’s questionnaire,” says Jaana Kurjenoja.

Families with children import alcohol by car increasingly often

Over 80% of the people travelling to Estonia bring back alcohol. Alcohol importing habits have not changed much, with the exception of families with children. Finns usually carry or transport their alcohol to Finland by cart unassisted. Nearly a quarter of the tourists fetch their drinks by car.

Before, the alcohol importing behaviour of families with children did not deviate from that of other tourists. But over the past year, families with children have clearly begun to import alcohol to Finland by car more often. Now, up to 37% of families with children travelling to Estonia import alcohol by car.

The survey indicates that tourism to Estonia may have reached its peak. While travel intentions remain high, the biggest wave of travel enthusiasm seems to have abated.

“Increased consumption taxation may still increase travel intentions and spending in Estonia, particularly since the state has just raised not only the VAT, but the tax percentage of alcohol, sweets and tobacco, all favourite travel purchases,” says Kurjenoja.

* The consumer survey was conducted by Innolink Research Oy in March 2013. The questionnaire was answered by 2,000 consumers over the age of 18. The questionnaire was conducted among the adult population of the regions of Varsinais-Suomi, Kanta‑Häme, Päijät-Häme, Pirkanmaa, Uusimaa and Kymenlaakso. Approximately 60% of the adult population of the Finnish mainland live in the area.

Further information:

Chief Economist Jaana Kurjenoja, jaana.kurjenoja(at)kauppa.fi, tel. +358 9 1728 5134

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. www.kauppa.fi