Icelandic bars want cheaper beer and wine

The Association of Icelandic Pub Owners has called on the government to provide bars and restaurants with wine and beer at lower-than-retail prices in order to provide their customers with better prices.

Arnar Thor Gislason, who runs Reykjavik’s English Pub, Danish Pub and Oliver bars, says that cheaper bar drinks would help improve Icelanders’ drinking culture and reduce pressure on the police.

“With these changes customers would go out earlier and then home earlier too,” he told Visir.is. “In addition to this, young people would learn to drink these drinks instead of illegaly-distilled hard spirits; the use of which has gone up along with increasing alcohol prices. Young people would also drink less strong spirits.”

Gislason and Oli Mar Olason, another bar owner, have both publicly stated that since alcohol prices went up following the economic crash and subsequent tax hikes, customers have been turning up to bars later and also more drunk, as they drink more at home before going out.

The state alcohol monopoly, ATVR, works under the Ministry of Finance and finance minister Steingrimur J. Sigfusson told reporters he has not yet heard of this idea and would need more information before commenting on it. The head of ATVR said something similar.

Gislason, though, says he is positive that the idea will receive proper attention and that it will come to pass, despite a slow start.

Johannes Gunnaon, the head of the consumer protection association, said that he would not trust the bars with such concessions. When food tax dropped from 14 percent down to seven percent, he says, restaurant/bar prices barely changed at all. Supermarket and food shop prices, on the other hand, went down appreciably. He says that bar and restaurant owners simply pocketed the difference and he fears they would do the same again.

(Main page photo: Alëx Elliott // Euromech)

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