The disappearance of Russian periodicals from newsstands in Estonia has impacted vendors the most. Finding replacements for them is a difficult and time-consuming process.
According to Lehepunkt CEO Kristo Heinmaa, Russian periodicals that have disappeared from newsstands accounted for a third of all journalistic products sold. Lehepunkt is the only company in Estonia that delivers journalistic products — newspapers and other periodicals — to retail chains.
"If we're talking in terms of circulation, i.e. how many products there were, then that is an absolutely colossal number," Heinmaa said. "There are a lot of Russian-speaking people in Estonia, and at the time — and broadly speaking even through now — they just encountered a vacuum; they were no longer able to buy the products they were used to at all."
Rimi sales director Talis Raak, however, said that their supermarket chain hasn't been impacted at all by the disappearance of Russian periodicals.
"That could likely be due to the fact that people don't come to the supermarket mainly to buy magazines or newspapers; those are usually additional purchases," Raak said. "We haven't seen a huge impact or gotten any customer feedback about it either."
Tõnis Tomingas, assortment and purchasing director at Prisma, acknowledged that their stores have to some degree been impacted by the disappearance of Russian periodicals.
Heinmaa noted that the range of periodicals for sale varies greatly by store, due to which Maxima's clientele may have been impacted by the loss of these products.
"Maxima has more of an — I don't know how they identify themselves, but based on our sales, we daresay more of a Russian-speaking client," the Lehepunkt CEO said. "Russian-language press sold the best at Maxima stores."
"We've managed to deliver non-Russian Russian-language papers from Latvia, Lithuania and other countries, but filling that so-called void takes an awful lot of time," he stressed.
Getting these substitutes from abroad to Estonia is complicated, however, as it is such a tiny market compared with other, bigger countries.
"Our volumes are basically a joke compared with their daily sales," Heinmaa explained. "We can't get the products we'd like to."
He also noted that very specific niche products are unattractive in Estonia as well.
"There are actually quite a lot of exciting periodicals out there that all of us at Lehepunkt have tossed out there that we could bring and look at, look into, etc.," Heinmaa said. "For example, we've tried to get a boxing magazine, we've gotten car magazines, formula [racing] magazines — we've even gotten model train magazines. But if they don't sell, the there's no point holding them here either, taking up space on newsstands and causing losses."
Editor: Aili Vahtla