The Welsh Government is to follow Scotland’s lead by introducing a minimum alcohol pricing model, banning sales of alcohol below a certain unit price.
First Minister of Wales Carwyn Jones announced the policy as one of the Welsh Government’s top five priorities for this year. However, any action will have to wait until at least late July, when a High Court case on the Scottish ban reaches a conclusion.
A statement by the Welsh government said the proposed ban is due to the link between levels of alcohol harm and alcohol pricing.
Welsh retailers Retail Express spoke to were unsure of the impact of the change on their business, but Scottish retailers, who’ve had longer to consider a minimum alcohol pricing rule were keen to reassure their Welsh counterparts.
Ferhan Ashiq, owner of Day-Today in East Lothian, said: “I don’t see it having any impact directly on my store, the only two products hit by the minimum pricing levels were multi-litre bottles of Strongbow and Frosty Jacks. If anything, the law will give independents a helping hand by prohibiting multiples from undercutting us with low prices and special offers.”
Robert Kirkwood believed the impact on his store – The Corner Shop Convenience Store in Crossgate, Fife – will be minimal: “As it stands I don’t think it will have a big effect on sales," he said.
"Consumers have quite firm shopping habits and if they’re buying a bottle of vodka a month, they’ll continue to do so even with a mild price increase. I’d imagine it will be a little like cigarettes, where despite the additional regulation we’re not seeing much impact on customers.”
NFRN’s CEO Paul Baxter has already called for a UK-wide minimum pricing rollout, referencing reduced alcohol harm, crime and the limit helping “hard pressed independent retailers compete against multiple chains on pricing”.
While the Scottish minimum alcohol pricing system would affect only a minority of products in convenience stores, the Welsh government is yet to outline whether its price-per-unit would be the same. Any increase in price-per-unit in Wales could increase the effect on independents.