UK trade associations representing the alcohol and retail sectors have joined together to condemn the Scottish government’s proposals for a blanket ban on alcohol advertising and promotion.
Nine trade bodies representing beer, wine, spirits and retailers, in addition to the Retail of Alcohol Standards Group (a panel of UK retailers), have signed a joint letter warning that, if the proposals go ahead, they will cause “significant harm” to Scotland’s businesses and will ultimately push up prices for consumers.
Reaching out to Holyrood ministers, following the resignation of first minister Nicola Sturgeon, the trade groups have urged the new regime not to “needlessly hold the country back to the detriment of Scottish society”.
The trade bodies, who have united under the umbrella of the Scottish Alcohol Industry Partnership (SAIP), argue “there is no specific evidence which shows that restricting the ability to promote and responsibly market products, including low and no alcohol products, in store, will lead to a reduction in alcohol sales or alcohol consumption”.
The letter goes on to highlight that retailers throughout Scotland go to great lengths to ensure that they have the correct licences to retail alcohol, that products are labelled according to UK labelling requirements, that products are placed in stipulated areas as per the premises licence and that products are sold for at least the minimum unit price.
“Moving alcohol to the back of stores or to closed off areas will hinder a store’s ability to comply with the licensing objective of preventing crime as colleagues at the tills would not be able to visually monitor those areas,” the letter added.
The letter points out that it’s not just businesses which will suffer from the measures.
“Today, in a cost-of-living crisis that is placing immense strain on household budgets, the retail sector is striving to ensure minimal cost increases to our customers. This may not be possible with the restrictions suggested by the Scottish government. It would cost a minimum of £15k a time to relay smaller convenience stores and £25k a time for larger stores, even with no new equipment. Some retailers have suggested costs could be significantly more. With the suggestions of installing barriers, moving alcohol away from windowed areas, enclosing alcohol behind opaque doors or even having a closed off and separate area within stores for alcohol, retailers would incur very substantial costs when their top priority is seeking savings that they could pass on to customers.”
The open letter has been signed by the following bodies: Adult Non-Alcoholic Beverage Association, Association of Convenience Stores, Retail of Alcohol Standards Group, SAIP, Scotch Whisky Association, Scottish Beer and Pub Association, Scottish Grocers’ Federation, Scottish Retail Consortium, Scottish Wholesale Association, The Society of Independent Brewers, and Wine & Spirit Trade Association.