After cross-border shopping in Sweden, tax-free stores and local bars and restaurants were all shut down in the Corona crisis, Norwegians have been flocking to the state-controlled wine and liquor chain Vinmonopolet. Business is so strong that customers often have to line up to enter in controlled allotments.
State broadcaster NRK reported Friday that sales have all but exploded at the wine and liquor retail monopoly. Total sales are up 29 percent, with sharp increases all over the country.
Sales are predictably strongest in the Oslo and Viken regions. After the government all but banned foreign travel and closed the borders to Sweden, where prices are much lower than in Norway, sales jumped from an average of 1.6 million liters a week to 2.1 million liters.
Vinmonopolet reported that sales have declined during earlier crises, not least after the terrorist attacks on July 22, 2011. “But we’ve never had a situation like this before (with much of the country shut down),” Vinmonopolet spokesman Jens Nordahl told NRK. With nowhere to go and urged to just stay home, Norwegians may be treating themselves to more wine with dinner, or simply drowning their sorrows.
Only sales of bubbly and beer are down, with Nordahl suggesting that’s because both are drinks most often enjoyed in social settings. With little of that for the time being, red and white wine in cartons have been most popular.