alcohol, binge, concern, independent, supermarketOnce more, the Scottish are leading the way on legislation – showing a potential path for the rest of the UK and taking the bull by the horns with regards to reforming their nation’s health.

Following on from a story I wrote a fortnight ago, the Scottish government has announced that alcohol should be sold at a minimum price of 45p per unit.

I said in that piece that, ultimately, this wouldn’t mean a huge amount for smaller retailers – and this seems to hold true. The four-packs of lager and cider, the RTDs, the big-branded bottles of spirits on your shelves – will see little, if any, rise in the prices that you charge for them.

However, according to the government’s own figures a minimum unit price of 45p would send an extra £140million through retailer’s tills.

The main aim was set out by Nicola Sturgeon, the Scottish Health Secretary, at the minimum price plan announcement: costs will only rise for high-strength products sold at rock-bottom prices. A Labour spokesperson responded to the claims that this will help those in need by suggesting that although more money will go through tills, no extra cash would be seen by the police or the NHS.

This would help ease the dependence on this type of alcohol by those in most need of help. An article in this weekend’s Observer claimed that this type of cheap alcohol is damaging more people than headline-grabbing drugs like crack and heroin.

The other benefit of a minimum price-per-unit would be on reputation. The Observer article above uses the phrases ‘corner shops’ and ‘independent retailers’ as the prime culprits in selling this type of alcohol (cheap white cider) to vulnerable consumers. We know that not all convenience stores and smaller retailers are like this – but we also all know that there are one or two retailers out there less bothered by reputation.

If the price rises and those few less scrupulous retailers out there can’t sell some of the ‘less reputable’ products, then the knock-on effect for everyone can only be positive.