MUP increase on alcohol demanded by Scottish retailers
Indies fear being undercut by multiples: ‘I would raise it to 55p per unit’
Scottish retailers have called on the government to increase the minimum unit price (MUP) on alcohol.
Research published in the British Medical Journal claimed the policy of making stores charge at least 50p per unit had cut alcohol consumption in Scotland.
However, sales data seen by betterRetailing from EPoS provider The Retail Data Partnership (TRDP) and convenience store owners shows that, by volume and value, alcohol sales are up in Scottish independent stores.
TRDP said the policy had “levelled the playing field” by preventing multiples from undercutting independents on prices.
However, store owners said inflation means increasing the unit price was necessary to maintain the levelling effect and to improve public health.
Falkirk councillor and shop owner Ferhan Ashiq said he “would back an MUP increase”.
“We are in year two of MUP, and due to inflation and wholesale price rises, there is again a disparity between convenience stores and multiples, and prices are starting to diverge again,” he added.
Mo Razzaq, owner of Family Shopper in Blantyre, said a rise would bring other alcohol categories often just above the 50p threshold into the policy.
“Multiples have looked at other avenues where MUP hasn’t made an impact, for instance wine, so it has only been a partial success,” he said. “I would raise it to 55p per unit or, ideally, 60p.”
However, Dennis Williams, of Broadway Premier in Edinburgh, argued that MUP needs more time “to bed in”.
“It can’t just keep going up by 10p a time,” he said. “Margins have gone up for alcohol, and retailers in England, Wales and Northern Ireland will be suffering because they can’t afford to price alcohol so high.”
With the rollout of MUP due next year in Wales, Mark Dudden, of Albany News in Cardiff, said he will “watch how it plays out closely in Scotland”.
“Because of the political situation in England, I can see it taking longer to implement,” he added.
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