The Scottish government has warned that there will be no 'period of grace’ for minimum unit price (MUP) compliance and inspection visits will begin as soon as the law is in effect.

The law change means that all alcohol sold in Scottish stores after 30 April must cost at least 50p per unit of alcohol in the product. “You must be selling alcohol at the right price on 1 May 2018 with no exceptions,” the Scottish Government warned.

The guidance said the premises licence holder, store managers and store staff are all responsible for ensuring a shop is compliant.

Licensing standards officers (LSO) will be contacting retailers before or shortly after the law change and may carry out an inspection visit, according to the document. It said if they discover a breach, retailers will be issued with an official notice. If this is ignored, LSOs will ask for a licence review.

Shopkeepers were also informed of a potential hazard when setting alcohol pricing. The number of units listed on the packaging can be rounded up or down, and if retailers use this to set the MUP, they could still be breaking the law.

The Scottish government gave the following example and asked retailers to use the same formula in setting their prices. “A standard 750ml bottle of wine with an ABV of 12.5% would have a minimum unit price of £4.68 ¾ (£0.50 x 12.5 x 0.75). In this case, you must charge at least £4.69,” it said.

Retail Express has created a set of spreadsheets to help retailers calculate both MUPs for their lines, and the impact this will have on weekly sales totals. Both are available for free here.

The Scottish government also created this checklist for retailers:

  • calculate the minimum price of a product
  • update the central pricing systems (if needed) to make sure the new price is shown when the barcode scans
  • change the price on any price tags and pricing displays on shop shelves
  • change the price on menus
  • change the price on promotional posters, flyers and other materials
  • change the price on websites