Spirits sales quadruple after cut in import tax

Imports of spirits such as whisky and cognac have quadrupled over the past months in the wake of dramatic cuts in import duties for foreign spirits, the Swiss authorities said Thursday.

This content was published on November 4, 1999 - 14:02

Imports of spirits such as whiskey and cognac have quadrupled over the past months in the wake of dramatic cuts in import duties for foreign spirits, the Swiss authorities said Thursday.

The customs authorities said overall imports had increased from 1.14 million to 4.89 million litres since July, when the import levies took effect. This means that about one bottle per head has been imported in that period.

The surge was due to a reduction on import tax – a move which made Swiss spirits slightly more expensive but caused a significant drop in prices for foreign spirits, such as whiskey, brandy and liqueurs.

The price tag for a bottle of Jack Daniels whisky, for instance, has seen a reduction of SFR59 ($39) to about SFr28 ($19).

Imports of spirits by category went up as follows:
(measurements in litres)

Liqueurs: 70,000 to 688,000
Whisky: 523,000 to 1.54 million
Brandy: 148,000 to 440,000
Rum: 84,000 to 365,000
Vodka: 45,000 to 365,000
Gin: 38,000 to 135,000

Most of the Brandy imports were from France while Britain was the main exporter nation for Whisky and Gin, the Customs Office said.

Swiss retailers such as Denner, Coop and Pick Pay noted turnover increases of up to 50 percent immediately after the import cuts were introduced. The authorities at the time somewhat played down the figures, arguing that many consumers apparently believed that the cuts were a one-time measure.

Officials have noted that the more attractive domestic prices have led to a shift in consumer habits, with more people now buying foreign spirits in Switzerland, rather than on their trips abroad, which had previously been the case.

Before the tax cuts were implemented, about one in five bottles was bought abroad.

From staff and wire reports.

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