Alcohol sales at Systembolaget fell last month by 1.3% year-on-year. The Swedish state-owned alcohol retailing monopoly has blamed the decrease on higher alcohol excise duties in its home country compared to neighbouring Denmark and Finland.

Spirits sales fell by 8.6% in March, while sales of cider dropped by 13.1%. Wine sales rose by 1.9%, although sales of strong beer, the only type of beer sold in Systembolaget stores, fell by 1.6%.

Sales fell in Vastra Gotland and Varmland counties, close to the Norwegian border, while sales in Norrbotten county, near the border with Finland, also dipped.

In October last year, Denmark cut its alcohol tax by 47%. Finland followed suit, cutting tax on alcohol by 40% at the beginning of last month. Both countries decided on the move pending the imminent accession of Poland and the Baltic states to the EU. The former Eastern Bloc countries all have lower alcohol prices than Scandinavia.