Norwegians are still streaming over the border to Sweden to go shopping, even though they’re not getting much of a currency exchange advantage anymore. New figures show that cross-border trade was up 15 percent last year, compared to 2012.
State statistics bureau SSB reported this week that Norwegians spent NOK 13.3 billion during day trips outside Norway in 2013. The vast majority of those trips are made to shopping centers just over the Swedish border, where prices for everything from alcoholic beverages to tobacco, groceries, candy and other consumer goods are generally much lower than in Norway.
Norwegian shoppers also enjoyed a currency exchange advantage for several years because of the strength of the Norwegian krone. It has weakened considerably against the Swedish krone, but shopping center parking lots in Svinesund were still full this week.
SSB said the actual number of day trips over the border also increased dramatically, by around 20 percent from 6.35 million to 7.61 million trips last year.
Virke, a professional trade association representing Norwegian retailers, repeated calls for the new Conservatives-led government to help stop what’s called Norway’s “shopping leakage” to Sweden. Virke is advocating lower taxes on Norwegian chocolate and products containing sugar and lower taxes on packaging, for example, along with other measures.
“Now this government must show that it, in contrast to the former (left-center) government, is taking this problem seriously,” said Thomas Angell, director of Virke.