alcohol sales

An influential House of Lords committee has called on the rest of the UK to adopt tougher, Scottish regulations on alcohol sales.

The committee’s review into the Licensing Act said England, Wales and Northern Ireland should adopt Scottish legislation, which not only curtails price promotions and multibuys, but also restricts advertising and siting of alcohol in store.

It also suggested that local authorities be given powers to increase licensing fees in their respective areas.

The ACS warned that locally-set fees would increase costs for retailers and chief executive James Lowman added: “While we broadly welcome the committee’s report, calls for restrictions on alcohol promotions and siting in store are a blunt instrument that will harm all consumers, instead of targeting the minority that consume alcohol irresponsibly.”

The committee also recommended that if minimum pricing of 50p per unit on alcohol works in Scotland, it should be rolled out to the rest of the UK.

The idea was backed by NFRN chief executive Paul Baxter, who said: “It’s our belief that such a move will reduce alcohol consumption, help independents compete against multiple chains on pricing, and protect retailers who are all too often a target for anti-social behaviour fuelled by people drunk on cheap alcohol.”

Retailer viewpoints

“It’s a great concern to me – any restrictions on the sale of alcohol is going to have a huge effect on my business. At least 50% of my revenue comes from alcohol. It’s a small store too, so any siting restrictions would be very difficult. I just hope this idea doesn’t get any further than this stage.”

Raj Dhillon, Westcombe Park Food & Wine, south-east London

“It’s like the tobacco regulations – it’s a barrier to the customer and it’s a barrier to retailers and their businesses. I know they’re aiming for the big supermarkets and their price promotions, but this will have a huge effect on us too. No-one’s thinking of the small guy.”   

Spike Millican, Premier, Uttoxeter, Staffordshire

“We have a lot of promotions on beer and we have a lot of multi-buys, deals and offers with things such as wine and crisps, so it could really damage us. However, if the Government does this with everyone, then it’ll be the same for consumers everywhere, even if the supermarkets have the buying power.”

Sunita Kanji, Family Shopper, Little Hulton, Manchester

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