Duty free sales rise for Stena Line in first quarter

Updated / Monday, 26 Apr 2021 18:00

Sales on board some of the Swedish carrier's vessels on EU-UK routes have increased by more than half in the first three months of this year compared to 2020

By Will Goodbody

Despite all its challenges, Brexit has brought with it a significant bounce for ferry operator Stena Line in one regard at least - duty free.

Sales on board some of the Swedish carrier's vessels on EU-UK routes have increased by more than half in the first three months of this year compared to 2020, the company has said.

That's despite there being far lower levels of traffic on many Irish Sea routes, as hauliers and freight transporters divert traffic onto alternative routes, such as through Northern Ireland or direct to and from continental Europe.

"Following the large demand that we are experiencing from people eager to enjoy the savings they can make onboard, the company will now be extending our sales offering even further," said Stephen Bryden, Stena Line's Head of Onboard Sales and Services.

Since the Brexit transition period ended on January 1, it has been possible to buy items like alcohol, cigarettes and cosmetics tax free on ferries operating between the UK and Ireland and UK and continental Europe again, yielding savings of up to 60%.

In the first quarter of the year, sales volumes on UK to mainland Europe routes were 34% higher compared to the same period last year.

These figures were even higher on the Irish Sea where they were up 53%, while they were 14.6% higher on the North Sea.

But although volumes rose significantly, the value of what was spent rose even more strongly, with the average amount spent in Stena Line's onboard shops per person rising 80%.

According to Stena Line, the growth in sales highlights how the sector could provide a much needed boost to help the travel industry bounce back after lockdown.

"The ferry sector has suffered worse than many other sectors as we have remained fully operational 24/7 during pandemic, despite having lower passenger and freight levels, so the boost from Duty Free is a welcome side-effect of Brexit not only for us but for all our passengers too," said Mr Bryden.