From Iceland — Alcohol Sales Went Through The Roof Last Year

Alcohol Sales Went Through The Roof Last Year

Published January 5, 2021

Valur Grettisson
Photo by
Art Bicnick

The Icelandic government-run liquor store, Vínbúðin, has never sold as much alcohol as they did last year according to Morgunblaðið.

The biggest single sales day of the year was the 30th of December when 43,700 customers stopped by the liquor store and bought 286,000 litres. All in all, Icelanders bought 27 million litres of liquor in 2020, but it was 23 million litres the year before. That means that the nation bought 75 litres per every living person in Iceland, and we are counting the kids, too, in these calculations.

The sale between years, from 2019 to 2020, went up by 18% and the explanation is a simple one: the pandemic. It’s not necessarily because Icelanders are drinking more, but that the bars and restaurants have more or less been closed or forced to limit their opening hours drastically. Also, Icelanders buy a lot of alcohol in the duty-free stores which also have been closed most of the year.

But what were Icelanders drinking? Well, beer, mostly. Icelanders bought almost 19 million litres of pilsner and lager over the year, then 2.5 million litres of red wine and finally 1.4 million litres of white wine. The biggest increase was in gin and schnapps, which increased by 40% in sales, as well as the variation of other categories of beers, not lager or pilsner, which increased by 54% between years.

Edit: We stated in the first edition of the article we stated that Icelanders drank 7500 litres per person, but of course, it was 7500 ml or 75 litres per person. Perhaps wishful thinking, but mostly bad math. We apologise for this mistake.

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