The shortage of imported alcohol on Russian retail shelves is expected to continue into the autumn. However, local reports said today (27 June) that shops are expected to begin receiving supplies again next month.

In January, the Russian government passed legislation on a new duty regime, which required all imported alcohol to be sold with new excise duty stamps. Under the law, bottles with old duty stamps could be brought into Russia until 1 April but must be sold by 1 July.

However, importers were made to wait to receive the new duty stamps and retailers feared that they would not be able to sell any product marked with old stamps after 1 April. As a consequence, the larger retailers either placed limits on or completely suspended the sale of imported alcohol in their stores.

The Russian news service RIA Novosti quoted the Sedmoi Kontinent supermarket spokesperson today saying that all goods unsold by 1 July would be returned to suppliers. Other supermarkets have already started returning unsold bottles.

"Wines are being sold at discount prices in Sedmoi Kontinent outlets," he said, adding that new supplies of wines were expected by July.

According to the report, the Federal Customs Service has now said that companies can re-register and sell their goods until 29 December. However, all beverages with old excise stamps must be returned to wholesale or importer's warehouses by 1 July, otherwise they would be considered illegal and confiscated.

Both sides in the argument are deflecting the blame. A spokesperson for the Union of Alcohol Market Participants said: "Stopping imports at the beginning of the year due to a lack of new stamps and the expectation of huge losses do not allow importers to bring in beverages or make major purchases even today when they have the stamps."

However, the Federal Customs Service said new excise stamps have been available since late March. It blamed the alcohol companies' failure to buy the necessary equipment to put new stamps on products for the situation.