Tougher times, cheaper booze

After a period of growing prices, Russian strong alcohol is again getting cheaper

As economic crisis embraces Russian society, the authorities cut prices on hard alcohol.


Alcohol beverages stronger than 28 percent will become cheaper from 1 February. While the minimum price for half a litre of vodka now costs 220 roubles, it will in February cost 185 roubles, reports with reference to Interfax.

One of the reported reasons for the price cut is the growing illegal market for alcohol sales. According to Igor Chuyan, head of the State Alcohol Regulation Agency, the authorized alcohol traders have over the last two years lost as much as 14 percent of their sales to the grey market. The price reduction could help take back market shares, Chuyan argues.

Russian authorities have over the last couple of years introduced a string of laws to regulate alcohol sales. Many regions now prohibit shop sales of beer and liquer after 9 pm and street kiosks are all banned from selling alcohol beverages. At the same time, taxation and prices have hiked. The State Alcohol Regulation Agency twice in 2014 increased prices on hard alcohol.

The government measures have resulted in a major decrease in registered alcohol sales. As illustrated by figures from Patchwork Barents, wine and liquer sales in Murmansk Oblast, Russia’s most populous region north of the Arctic Circle, dropped as much as 25 percent between 2012 and 2013.

The sales drop are bringing Russian alcohol figures closer to the ones in the neighboring Nordic countries. While the average per person sales in Murmansk in 2013 amounted to 31 litres, the average sale in the neighboring Finnish Lapland province were 27 litres and in the Swedish Norrbotten 28 litres.