UK Booze Trade Hits Back at 'Under-Age Drinking' Motion

20 August 2007

LONDON: British supermarkets and other booze pushers were less than pleased at last week's criticism of "irresponsible" drinks promotions that allegedly spur under-age drinking, vandalism and violence.

Nearly two hundred parliamentarians across the party divide signed a House of Commons motion calling for supermarkets and off-licences to stop selling alcohol at below cost price.

It came as a response to a Competition Commission report that the four largest supermarket chains collectively sold £112.7 million ($223.46m; €165.63m) of beer, wine and spirits at below cost price during the televising of last summer's World Cup.

Tesco, the UK's dominant supermarket group, dismissed those figures as inaccurate. The brewing and pubs lobby, on the other hand, whooped joyfully aboard the supermarket-bashing bandwagon.

Said Mark Hastings, director of communications for the British Beer and Pub Association: "We would question whether using alcohol as a traffic driver and selling it below cost can be classified as responsible retailing."

Countered Tesco: "It is too simplistic to suggest that low prices and promotions lead to problem drinking. In Britain alcohol is often more expensive than in Mediterranean countries, where they do not have drinking culture problems."

The parliamentary move also came in the wake of two tragic unconnected killings of householders who tried to prevent vandalism by gangs of purportedly booze-fuelled youths.

Data sourced from Financial Times; additional content by WARC staff