Concern over the consumption and effects of alcohol in Scotland is rarely out of the headlines, but in the past month, the focus has been ramped up a notch.
At the end of October, the Scottish courts backed Holyrood government’s plans to introduce minimum pricing of 50p per unit on alcohol – a plan that has been rumbling on for more than four years.
Moves like this could have a significant impact on Scottish retailers that are already burdened with a mass of red tape around the display and promotion of alcohol
Hot on its heels was a more concerning idea. Earlier this month, NHS Shetland called for further restrictions on the sale of alcohol. Public health experts have suggested that there should be an alcohol sales ban in stores until after 5pm as part of a new report on substance abuse.
“Restricting licensing hours would be a big help, if off-sales were not permitted until late afternoon or evening rather than from 10am,” the report said, citing figures that around three quarters of all alcohol drunk in Scotland was now bought from supermarkets or off-licences.
As well as the restricted selling hours, it said that small shops should be prevented from displaying alcohol from behind the counter.
Moves like this could have a significant impact on Scottish retailers that are already burdened with a mass of red tape around the display and promotion of alcohol.
East Lothian retailer Mohammed Aslam told Retail Express that his store would be “finished”, as alcohol accounts for 25% of his sales, while the Scottish Grocers Federation stressed the importance of being able to place alcohol behind the till for many stores with big theft issues.
Enforcing blanket regulations for all stores is not the answer to Scotland’s problems with alcohol. But as a retailer serving the local community, you do have a responsibility to do what’s best for your store and its customers.
Consider whether you need to make changes for the good of your community. And then fight against the proposals that simply hinder your role as a responsible retailer.