Published results seem to focus on larger outlets, as our figures contradict new claims that Scottish customers are buying less alcohol

September 26, 2019
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Declining Scottish MUP Alcohol Sales Figures Don't Include Convenience Stores 

According to new figures in the British Medical Journal, Scotland’s controversial minimal unit price (MUP) hike has caused a reported 8% slash in alcohol sales. Our question is: “Does that include the convenience sector?” Published results seem to focus on larger outlets, as our figures contradict these new claims.

What They Say About MUP

Scottish adults purchased 1.2 fewer units of alcohol each week (equivalent to half a pint of lager) after the legislation was introduced in May, on average, according to analysis from Newcastle University. Findings were based on shopping data from 5,325 Scottish households between 2015 and 2018.

Authors of the new report examined the impact of MUP throughout the 34 weeks immediately after minimum pricing came into effect. They concluded that beer purchases were down some 15%, spirits sales had decreased by 6.3%, and wine sales had dipped by 3.7%. Overall alcohol sales were down by 8%.

What We Say About MUP

Contrary to the above figures, we can confirm that the value of alcohol sales  in our 280-strong segment of convenience stores in Scotland has increased by 9.9%. The total sum of units sold has risen by 7.75%. Sales for beer are up 11.92%, as are spirits (9.1%), and wine (9.33%). Compared year-on-year, cider sales remain the only casualty with a 1.21% decline.

We put this rise in sales within c-stores down to the level playing field on which supermarkets and c-stores now compete in regard to selling and advertising alcoholic beverages.

The Convenience Sector Fights Back

Before Parliament passed the MUP bill, smaller outlets could not compete with deals offered by the likes of Tesco, Asda, and Morrisons.

The Scottish Government then increased the base prices of wine, beer, and spirits to 50 pence per unit in a bid to counteract health problems affecting the country.

The set prices eliminated the advantage previously held by larger stores. The new regulations found prices for cider increasing by 151%, whisky by 40% and beer by 72%.

However, from our data, the price hike hasn’t deterred drinkers from buying their preferred tipple. They appear to have migrated towards their local shop, instead of travelling to the nearest supermarket in search of cheaper deals. Shoppers are getting the same deal offered by their local store when compared to supermarket chains, as prices across the board remain locked.

With pressure for the rest of Britain to implement this strategy, should England, Northern Ireland, and Wales follow suit, then southern c-stores could also benefit from minimum unit pricing.

For more current news, check out our news page.

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