The owners of large alcohol stores in the area of the former Ikla-Ainaži checkpoint on the Estonian-Latvian border are expanding their stores in order to nearly double the locations' sales floors by next spring, daily Postimees reported.
Spurred by a current great need for additional operating space, the sales floor of the Ainaži SuperAlko store, which belongs to Aldar Eesti, will increase from the current 800 square meters to 2,000 square meters, according to project manager Riin Rätsep.
"We had periods here in the summer when the big store looked like a kiosk, with people with shopping carts lining up outside and the parking lot full of people," Rätsep said, adding that the extension will hopefully help to prevent such situations for some time at least.
According to the project manager, the extension is expected to be completed by the end of February, and its opening will depend on how quickly the permit to use the new structure can be obtained — a process which can take anywhere from two days to two weeks.
"We wish to open the expanded store in March at the latest," Rätsep added.
Meanwhile, the Alko1000 store on the Ikla-Ainaži border is to open at the end of this year already.
According to company manager Einar Visnapuu, their sales area will expand from 700 to 1,300 square meters in order to offer better amenities to its customers.
Visnapuu said that this was the only major novelty Alko1000 was planning in its operation in cross-border trade in the near future. "Our company is currently focused on developing a chain of grocery stores in Estonia," he added.
Aldar Eesti stores in Latvia are operated by SIA Aldar Latvia, which, according to the company's homepage, operates three stores on the Estonian-Latvian border; three Alko1000 stores are located in Latvia.
Increased alcohol excise duty driving cross-border trade
As a result of recent increases in the alcohol excise duty in Estonia, cross-border trade on the border between Estonia and Latvia has increased significantly as of late.
The Estonian Institute of Economic Research has estimated that as a result of larger amounts of alcohol being brought to Estonia from Latvia, and smaller amounts purchased in Estonia by Finns for taking back to Finland, the country's total receipts of the alcohol excise duty in 2018 will turn out smaller by €80 million euros than planned by the Ministry of Finance.
Editor: Aili Vahtla