Survey: Estonians' interest in buying alcohol in Latvia beginning to wane

Alcohol for sale at an Alko1000 store in the border town of Valka.
Alcohol for sale at an Alko1000 store in the border town of Valka. Source: (Postimees/Scanpix)

Of Estonian residents who have purchased alcohol in Latvia this year, just 11 percent do so at least once a month ⁠— down from 21 percent in March, it appears from a survey conducted by Kantar Emor in August.

Kantar Emor survey manager Aivar Voog noted that the emotion that used to accompany alcohol shopping in Latvia is losing its effect as well.

The share of people buying alcoholic beverages from Latvia less frequently than once a month has increased, however this is not a deliberate or systematic strategy for replenishing one's alcohol reserves, he said, pointing out that as people from Estonia travel to Latvia more frequently during the summer months, they are bound to buy both low-alcohol by volume (ABV) beverages and strong liquor alike while there.

"What is more important is that the number of people who can be bothered to drive to Latvia just to get their drinks has declined twofold," Voog highlighted.

He pointed out that buying one's alcohol from Latvia also no longer produces the shopper's high that it used to. As recently as June, many considered buying alcohol in Latvia something of a protest against Estonia's high alcohol excise duty rates. This has lost its punch, however, after Estonia reduced its alcohol excise duty rates as of July 1. This June, 40 percent of those polled said they had experienced a sense of satisfaction when buying alcohol from Latvia; by August, this figure had declined twofold.

"Shopping is [now] perceived rather as an ordinary activity," he added.

Altogether 18 percent of survey respondents said in August that they had purchased alcohol from Latvia this year, down 24 percent on year.

Consumption remains unchanged

Voog noted, however, that alcohol consumption has remained relatively unchanged on the whole in Estonia. Among residents aged 18-74, 83 percent had purchased alcohol this year, similar to recent years' figures for the month of August.

"Alcohol is purchased more frequently in summer than during the first months of the year," he said.

From Aug. 15-21, Kantar Emor interviewed 1,166 Estonian residents regarding cross-border alcohol purchases.


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Editor: Aili Vahtla

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