Cheers! Croatia fans boost economy with beer sales

FILE PHOTO: Soccer Football - World Cup - Semi-Final - Croatia v England - Zagreb, Croatia - July 11, 2018. Croatia's fans celebrate after Croatia beat England in semi-final. REUTERS/Antonio Bronic/File Photo
FILE PHOTO: Soccer Football - World Cup - Semi Final - Croatia v England - Luzhniki Stadium, Moscow, Russia - July 11, 2018 Croatia players salute their fans as they celebrate victory after the match REUTERS/Damir Sagolj/File Photo

By Igor Ilic

ZAGREB (Reuters) - Croatia's run to a first World Cup final has proven an economic win at home with spending reaching near record levels as fans rush out to buy beers, snacks and television sets to follow the action in Russia.

The country's biggest local retail chain, Konzum, said that the sale of crisps was up by 100 percent on Wednesday, compared to a year ago, as fans munched through the 2-1 extra time win over England in the semi-final.

Many will watch Sunday's final against France on new television sets, with some shops reporting a 400 percent rise on sales during the World Cup compared to last year.

Those sales have contributed to a 12.95 billion kuna ($2.05 billion) spend by Croats and tourists since the World Cup began in the middle of June, according to tax office data published by the Vecernji List daily on Thursday.

The three week sales numbers have come close to the 13.8 billion kuna record which was set in December 2017 due to Christmas holiday shopping.

Delighted Croatian cabinet ministers dressed in the red and white checkered jerseys on Thursday, with prime minister Andrej Plenkovic saying the run to the final was "the best possible promotion for the country on a global level". [L8N1U820A]

Analysts agreed, predicting a boost in tourism which already provides almost 20 percent of the country's gross domestic product.

"This is a great promotion for Croatia globally which will certainly reflect in an increased interest in the country," an economic analyst Mladen Vedris said.

"I expect we will have even more tourists, but it should not be the only focus. We must use this opportunity to draw more investments as well."

(Reporting by Igor Ilic; Editing by Patrick Johnston)

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