Sales for the full year 2004 fell 5% at the state-run alcohol retailer Sytembolaget, the company has said, as the problem of rising cross-border shopping continues to make its mark.

The largest fall was seen in the spirits sector where sales in Systembolaget shops fell 13% year-on-year. Sales of cider dropped 12.9% over last year. Meanwhile, wine sales fell 2.1% and strong beer 3.5%.

There was some respite from the gloom as sales of alcohol-free products rose 20.1%.

Systembolaget is struggling to keep hold of customers who are continuing to shop abroad for alcohol because of the lower taxes in neighbouring Denmark and Finland.