Crate expectations: Moscow shops stockpile beer for World Cup fans

MOSCOW: Moscow’s shops are stocking up on beer to slake the thirst of World Cup fans after some bars reported shortages.

At a branch of Russian supermarket chain Azbuka Vkusa crates of Heineken, Guinness and local brands like Zolotaya Bochka blocked the aisles on Friday.

Boxes with bottles of beer are seen in a shop in Moscow

Thousands of foreign fans in the Russian capital for the month-long soccer tournament have been partying until the small hours, guzzling beer in bars and restaurants and spilling over onto the streets.

"There’s beer everywhere," an Azbuka Vkusa saleswoman said. "There’s nowhere to put it."

International brewers report an increase in demand for the World Cup, which runs until July 15 in 11 Russian cities, and have guaranteed that fans will not run out after some shortages in the first week of the event.

"We are experiencing higher demand for beer in Russia, compared to a typical summer period in Russia," Anheuser-Busch InBev, the world’s biggest brewer and an official FIFA sponsor for the World Cup, told Reuters in an e-mail.

"We have planned and prepared for this scenario to ensure we are delivering beer to our partners in full capacity."

Russian food retailer chain O’Key said that demand for beer at its stores had increased by 10 percent since June 14, when the tournament kicked off, over the same period last year.

Magnit, Russia’s second-biggest food retailer, said it had seen an increase in demand for beer in its shops located in World Cup host cities, attributing this to the influx of soccer fans as well as seasonal trends.

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Four other Russian supermarket chains, including Azbuka Vkusa, did not reply to questions about how they were coping with heightened beer demand, but managers of local stores said they had needed to increase stocks.

"We are having to order more beer because of the World Cup," said Zinaida Fisher, the manager of a Perekrestok supermarket branch in central Moscow. "But we have enough for everybody."

At one Azbuka Vkusa branch, a salesman named Kirill said that demand for beer was booming and that stores had to constantly renew supplies.

"The closer you go to the centre, the more you will find that beer is being bought up at a spectacular rate," said Kirill, who was not authorised to speak on behalf of the store. "Fans drop in, buy beer and leave."

Some fans said they were downing their fair share.

"Countless beers. Countless. A lot. Many. Plenty," said Hector Capistran, 40, from Mexico, when asked how much he had been drinking.

(Reporting by Gabrielle Tétrault-Farber, Jack Stubbs, Maria Kiselyova, Olga Sichkar; Editing by Andrew Osborn, Alexander Smith and Mark Potter)