Minimum pricing on alcohol is a subject that is close to the hearts of the NFRN’s 16,000 members.

It is our belief that high and rising incidents of crime that disrupt and reduce the quality of life of members of the public and the small shopkeepers that we represent is fuelled by the pocket money priced alcohol promotions in supermarkets.

The large multiple chains regularly sell alcohol at below costs price as loss leaders, often employing multi-buy offers to entice customers and gain market share. The cross subsidising that this requires not only puts small independent retailers who lack the buying power or capital at an unfair disadvantage, but by reducing the cost of alcohol, encourages higher alcohol consumption, particularly among the young, who would otherwise be priced out of “binge drinking”.

That’s why we responded positively to the recent Home Office consultation on minimum pricing, agreeing that it would help reduce levels of ill health and crimes related to alcohol.

And more recently, it’s why we are right behind calls from Stirling University, backed by royal colleges, health charities and medical groups, for a 50p minimum price for a unit of alcohol, as this will also bring proposals for England and Wales in line with those in Scotland.

Not only do we believe that minimum pricing will help tackle crime, it will have a beneficial effect on the hard-pressed independent retailer sector. It will level the playing field with the large multiple chains that have irresponsibly used loss leaders and multiple purchase offers on alcohol products to gain market share at the expense of the smaller local shops, many of which have been driven out of business as a result.