A Trafik is a kind of small shop found all over Austria with several hundred in Vienna. The term translates closest as tobacconist and a Trafik does indeed stock a wide range of cigarettes and related goods.
- Austrian equivalent of the British newsagent
- Good for newspapers, magazines, lottery tickets, cigarettes, some stamps and some public transport tickets
- See also:
(Easily spotted through the signs)
Think of the Trafik as a cross between a newsagent and a tobacconist, minus the snacks.
Inside you usually find just a counter and a handful of display stands mostly stocking tobacco products, newspapers, magazines, and lottery tickets.
Even the non-smokers might wish to visit a Trafik during a trip, though. Most of the locations (but not all) sell a few extras above the basics mentioned above. These typically include three key commodities for many visitors:
- Stamps (if you’re sending postcards)
- Some of the simpler tickets for public transport
- Parking vouchers if you have a car and plan to park in the street
Once you’ve seen a Trafik or three, you’ll soon learn how to recognize them from a distance. But the outside offers two big clues for those searching for their first one.
To start with, they commonly have a cigarette machine close to the entrance and a small mobile poster display advertising the latest issue of some glossy magazine.
But the biggest giveaway is they always (I think) feature the “Tabak” sign somewhere.
You can see an example of this sign in the photo above. Austria Tabak is the former state tobacco manufacturer, now part of the international JTI Group.
Austria’s tobacco monopoly
The tobacco monopoly in Austria dates back to 1784.
The Trafik formed part of that monopoly, with licences to sell tobacco given to war invalids and their families. The distribution of Trafik licences continues today through the Monopolverwaltung GesmbH, which is wholly owned by the state.
Current Austrian law also decrees that particular social groups should be favoured when it comes to awarding a vacant Trafik licence.
These applicants still include war invalids and their kin, but particularly people with disabilities.
The Monopolverwaltung also manages regional coverage and ensures minimal geographic competition between Trafiks. This helps secure both a better livelihood for the licence owners and access to the Trafik’s products for as wide a number of customers as possible.