Systembolaget expects its sales for this year to fall, thanks to Sweden's neighbouring countries. The state-owned alcohol retailing monopoly said yesterday that it believes sales in 2004 will decrease by 3% year-on-year.

The company said that the expected fall is due to higher alcohol excise duties in Sweden compared to Denmark and Finland. Figures released throughout this year have shown sales decrease at Systembolaget stores in Sweden's border areas as customers make cross-border shopping trips to buy their alcohol. The company expects this kind of shopping trip to increase further after the Baltic countries accede to the EU this Saturday (1 May).

In the autumn of 2003, Systembolaget called for a reduction of alcohol taxes in Sweden to counter cross-border trade.

In March this year, sales at the retailer fell by 1.3% year-on-year.