The summer of 2018 was the longest since 2006, thus significantly helping to boost sales of light seasonal alcoholic beverages such as beer and cider, despite price increases resulting from the introduction of higher excise tax. Several retailers reported running out of stock due to extraordinarily high seasonal demand for light drinks.
Cross-border shoppers from countries with higher excise levels - mostly Estonia, Scandinavia and, to a lesser extent, Lithuania - continue to help the otherwise sluggish local market, especially categories such as beer, wine, vodka, rum, cider and mixed drinks. Border trade in alcoholic drinks has gradually increased since 2017.
Increasing incomes are stimulating interest in more sophisticated, higher quality and novel products. At the same time, the increased excise tax and ban on large PET bottles is pushing less affluent consumers to either upgrade or migrate to the illegal market.
Lidl is expected to open its first stores during the forecast period. This move is set to deepen competitive pressure in an already crowded market and impact mainly affordable and mainstream segments in most alcoholic beverages categories.
The recent wave of cross-border sales has artificially distorted actual local consumption figures. However, the local market for alcoholic beverages is being negatively impacted by the decreasing population, continuously increasing excise tax rates, and the shift among younger generations towards healthier lifestyles, with there being little likelihood of strong volume growth during the forecast period.
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