First shots in Xmas spirits war

12 November, 2010

A spirits price war is under way in the supermarkets, with Asda and Tesco offering big discounts on major brands.

Asda has £15 deals on 1-litre bottles of brands such as Bell’s, Smirnoff, Bacardi and Gordon’s.

Tesco has two-for-£22 deals on 70cl bottles of brands including Beefeater, Gordon’s, Smirnoff and Russian Standard, working out at £15.71 per litre, and an offer on 1-litre bottles of Russian Standard at £12.50.

Baileys has also been caught up in the price war, with Sainsbury’s and Morrisons running half-price deals that made the 1-litre bottle just £9.39.

An online voucher offer meant it was possible to buy the Baileys’ hazelnut variant for £7.39 a litre.

Sainsbury’s is also promoting its own Taste the Difference Irish Cream at £10 a litre.

“There is no question that deep discounting of spirits is not necessary at Christmas and strips too much value out of the market,” said Tesco spirits category manager Mark Suddaby. “However, we must continue to be competitive and to provide our customers with offers that are not drastically undercut by discount retailers.”?Some smaller rivals, especially independent retailers, are moving away from big-name spirits at Christmas because they cannot compete with cutthroat prices in the multiples.

But Diageo urged them to keep faith with brands such as Baileys, which relies on Christmas for a large part of its sales.

“We do not believe heavy discounting will ultimately deliver value for our brands,” a spokesman said. “However, while we can recommend a promotional strategy for our brands, we do not set or agree retail prices, our customers do.”?She added: “Any retailer choosing not to stock Baileys at Christmas would risk losing out on sales opportunities during this lucrative period.

“Fifteen per cent of convenience shoppers use their store more than usual during the Christmas period, and 21% of those visiting convenience stores during the Christmas period are doing so to buy alcohol for parties and other occasions.”

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