Sweden’s response to Covid-19 has made the country stand out by opting for a lighter touch. The country has not shut down its bars and restaurants, in fact, the only limit placed on them is that all customers must be served via table service. This has meant that the beer and cider industry in Sweden has yet to feel the impact of a lockdown like some European countries.
However, this could soon change. The Swedish Government’s approach is facing increasing backlash as the death rate in the country has climbed higher than its lockdown neighbours. As the calls for lockdown grow stronger, the beer and cider industry could soon be faced with the same challenges seen in other countries in lockdown.
Lockdown will create supply chain issues as production slows and distribution becomes increasingly challenging due to the impact Covid-19 has on the workforce. There are already signs of this as the state owned monopoly Systembolaget is operating on a reduced delivery capacity due to Covid-19 cases in warehouse staff. In addition, as seen across much of Western Europe consumer behaviour changes. Fewer shopping trips are made and consumers reprioritise their purchases, and often leave beer and cider at the store in exchange for staple household food. Further adding to this Systembolaget could be closed by the government if it is deemed non-essential. Even if Systembolaget was to remain open, consumers who did purchase beer and cider would be doing so for personal consumption, rather than for gatherings of friends or family.
However, a lockdown scenario could also present an opportunity for Sweden’s brewers. eCommerce could offer a lifeline to brewers during a lockdown scenario since it offers the opportunity to sell directly to customers at home. Currently eCommerce makes up a small percentage of sales in Sweden, however, similar approaches in the US and China have produced strong results.