Steps being taken by some local councils to control the sale of high ABV lagers has led to many independent retailers not being able to compete with the multiples. Shalish Patel gives this account from his Costcutter store in London.
I’ve finally had my alcohol licence extended from 8am-11pm to 6am-11pm – but it’s almost counterproductive, thanks to the council’s selective conditions.
The police and council have been going in every licensed shop and asking them to voluntarily stop selling high percentage 6.5% lagers, which will come to an end after six months. But with us it’s not voluntary, because they automatically put that condition on our new licence.
It’s annoying – it should be fair for everyone and I’m not sure how our business is going to handle it in the summer if our customers switch to the Sainsbury’s, which is only a three-minute walk away.
Customers buy a maximum of four cans of the higher-percentage alcohol, but they’re sales that might end up with the multiples.
We extended our licence to try and compete with the supermarket, as we’ve been suffering for the past two years, and now this extra condition doesn’t help us.
We are trying to push other products to reduce our margins and have put Costcutter posters in the window. To be honest, if we weren’t part of a symbol group, we wouldn’t be able to survive.
I’ve got to keep trying – it’s the only thing we can do.
Woodford Green, London
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