Norway - Availability

Vinmonopolet is a government-owned alcoholic beverage retailer and the only company allowed to sell beverages containing an alcohol content higher than 4.75% in Norway.

 

Outlets, located across the country from cities to smaller communities, typically close business earlier than other shops, normally weekdays at 18:00 and Saturdays at 15:00.

 

"Although alcohol policy involves complex possibilities and dilemmas, all countries with a more liberal sales structure than Norway have substantially higher per capita consumption - often as much as double. Greater use of alcohol carries higher costs in the form of ill-health and social damage. Vinmonopolet is accordingly an important instrument for making wine, spirits and strong beer available in a form acceptable for society and public health." - http://www.vinmonopolet.no/

 

Support for Vinmonopolet, the state monopoly system, has increased in recent years, and customer satisfaction is among the ten highest in Norway. Threats to the monopoly at this time come mainly from developments that undermine the dominant position of the Vinmonopolet.

 

One of the factors that weaken the position of the monopoly is the share of alcohol that goes through other channels, such as cross border shopping and particularly taxfree. The last government increased travellers’ allowance slightly (from 3 to 4 bottles of wine), and in a surprise move the current government decided to let travellers trade their tobacco allowance for alcohol so that travellers now can buy 6 bottles of wine tax-free. This increased the tax-free sales of alcohol, and the state monopoly argued that this caused a small dip in their sales.

 

The government has also promised to open up for farm sale of locally produced alcohol over 4,75 %. The reasoning behind this proposal is to stimulate local farming, industry and tourism. However, alcohol over 4,75% has so far been reserved for the alcohol monopoly, and competition from local outlets may challenge the monopoly status of the alcohol monopoly under EEA rules.