The Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers, which has long been demanding government action on off-trade pricing, described some of Sainsbury’s deals as “astonishing”. It highlighted the 60×28.4cl case deal on Stella Artois – the equivalent of 66p a pint – as a particular concern.

Chief executive Nick Bish said: “Stella was always ‘reassuringly expensive’. Well at Sainsbury’s it’s frighteningly cheap.

“It is disappointing to see them following in Tesco’s footsteps with these astonishing giveaways of enormous quantities of beer at pocket money prices.”

Sainsbury’s rejected claims it was acting irresponsibly. In a statement it said: “We sell beer, wines and spirits at prices that are competitive, and from time to time we also run price promotions on a variety of lines. These are popular with our customers as they offer outstanding value.

“The vast majority of our customers who buy alcohol do so as part of their regular and large grocery shop. Our research shows that they consume it over a period of weeks and months or they buy it for a special occasion such as a party or celebration.”