Thursday, December 1, 2022

Should alcohol sales be nationalized?

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While in Switzerland you can buy wine, beer or other alcoholic beverages in an almost infinite number of shops, things are much more limited in Sweden. There is only one company called Systembolaget that sells alcohol and is owned by the Swedish state.

In Sweden, the state has a so-called monopoly on the sale of alcohol. In small, remote towns there are a few specialist shops that are not part of Systembolaget, but are still allowed to sell alcohol. Your supplier, in turn, is exclusively Systembolaget.

Less alcohol consumption through monopoly

While various providers in free markets, such as in Switzerland, can boost their sales through promotions or advertising, for example, this is prohibited in Sweden. Compared to monopoly markets like Sweden, prices in free markets are lower, which in turn can lead to higher alcohol consumption.

The sales staff in Sweden also act differently than in Switzerland: employees at Systembolaget neither advertise individual products nor producers, but simply advise their customers according to their needs, for example finding a suitable wine for fish.

And although in Sweden you are legally allowed to drink alcohol from the age of 18, you can only buy alcohol at Systembolaget from the age of 20. In bars or restaurants, on the other hand, serving to 18-year-olds is permitted.

Circumvention via online trading

Alternatively, Swedes can also order their favorite wine online from another EU country and have it shipped to Sweden, but then have to pay Swedish alcohol taxes in addition to the transport costs.

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