A third of Sweden’s supermarkets are threatened with closure

By 2030, half of the car fleet is predicted to be electrified and from 2035, the sale of new petrol and diesel cars will be banned following an EU decision. These are driving factors behind the fact that the demand for fossil fuels is soon expected to drop to such a low level that it will no longer be profitable to sell.

Traditional sandwiches in sparsely populated areas such as Norrland’s hinterland are judged to have the least margin against this breaking point. Overall, the organization Sweden’s service stations estimates that approximately one-third of today’s gas stations will be phased out in the next decade.

– The government’s lowering of the reduction obligation meant that the traditional fuels had a little more survival time. Therefore, the slope was not so sharp, but there will be a ketchup effect where we will see a fairly large transition, I am convinced of that. And with it, we will see a wave of closures of the smaller stations around the country, says Robert Dimmlich, CEO of Sweden’s service stations.

Got the pumps flowing again

One who goes against the grain is Niklas Wikholm in the community of Holm, five kilometers west of Sundsvall. The deli was shut down there in 2012, but through his own limited company, Niklas has gotten the pumps flowing again since last fall. The community only has 100 inhabitants, and on average 10 tankers arrive a day, but for Niklas the grocery store has great value.

– I guess I don’t have a strong feeling for fuel per se. This is more about me wanting my hometown to continue to live, says Niklas Wikholm.

Even for supermarkets that belong to the larger chains, it is expensive and not a matter of course to invest in building fast chargers, an area where at the same time many new competing players are coming quickly. But even there, Niklas Wikholm hopes to be able to broaden the offer in Holm.

– I have some plans to start a shop here as well, and fix some fast chargers for cars, he says.

Are you afraid of a mac death?

– I’m not sleepless, but I definitely see the fear that it will shut down sandwiches in Sweden. I think this will remain as long as I want, but in general I think it will be difficult to keep the sandwiches alive, says Wikholm.

An endangered species

Despite his great commitment, Niklas says that even for him there is a pain threshold when it would no longer be worthwhile to run the deli. Nearby, there are also the skeletons of other decommissioned sandwiches, as reminders that it is an endangered species.

In sparsely populated areas, closures would hit particularly hard in communities where mainly staffed stations also carry several important social functions on their shoulders, such as acting as agents for mail and parcels.

“In five years it may be too late”

Robert Dimmlich urges politicians to think before it’s too late, and too many people who still run on fossil fuels and can’t afford to buy an electric car get too far to their nearest station.

– The first thing you should do is think about what kind of basic functionality you want in the country. It needs to be done now, in five years it may be too late, and then it will be pure capital supply if you shut down these stations and then come to the conclusion that it was bad because it disadvantaged this sparsely populated area, or our preparedness, says Robert Dimmlich, CEO of Sweden’s service stations.