Anger as multiples intensify price war

In the run-up to Christmas, the intensification of supermarket discount deals on alcohol in the UK has sparked anger among pub operators there and led to MPs again raising the issue of below-cost sales and minimum pricing in Parliament.

Major multiples in the UK have once more slashed the price of alcohol for the Festive Season.

For example Sainsbury’s is selling a one litre bottle of Bacardi for just £12 (€14.15), reduced from £20.99 (€24.76) while a £17.49 (€20.63) bottle of Bombay Sapphire is being advertised for just £12. Beer too has been heavily discounted with 24 cans of Carlsberg, Carling or Strongbow being offered for £12.

Two bottles of Smirnoff Red vodka can be purchased at Tesco for £20 (€23.60) and a one litre bottle of Baileys for £15 (€17.70) while Asda and Morrison’s are also offering deals on alcohol.

The deals, branded “completely unacceptable” and “irresponsible” by Chairman of the All-Party Save the Pub Group and LibDem MP Greg Mulholland, have been the subject of a parliamentary motion.

In the meantime, the UK Government continues to pussyfoot around legislating on the below-cost selling issue.

However the offers have been defended by both Tesco and Sainsbury’s.

“We are coming up to Christmas, purse strings are tight and people are looking to save money,” explained a Tesco spokesperson, “People do have parties around Christmas time. We are not just doing special offers on alcohol either, but things like Pringles and Sprite.”

A Sainsbury’s spokesman added, “It’s important to remember that the overwhelming majority of our customers buy alcohol as part of their weekly shop and drink responsibly in their own home”.

And the Head of Communications at the Wine & Spirit Trade Association Gavin Partington argued, “There’s no evidence to suggest that price is linked to irresponsible consumption”.

However one UK publican claimed, “It’s going to be a very tough time for pubs with the VAT rise in the New Year and then brewers putting up their prices”.

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