Trade slams pricing attacks

14 November, 2008

The trade has hit out at Home Office calls for a ban on drinks promotions and below-cost selling.

Leading industry bodies and retailers have slammed the proposed moves as unfair, unclear and penalising moderate drinkers.

The House of Commons Home Affairs Committee called for a ban on loss-leaders

in a report on policing in the 21st century, saying police resources are overstretched by alcohol-fuelled disorder.

Committee chairman Keith Vaz said: "We cannot have on one hand a world of alcohol promotions for profit that fuels surges of crime and disorder, and on the other the police diverting all their resources to cope with it."

British Retail Consortium director general Stephen Robertson responded: "Irresponsible drinking is not about price, it's a cultural issue, as many police officers recognise. An alcohol price hike will

not achieve the desired outcomes.

"Minimum pricing would penalise the overwhelming majority of customers who buy alcohol in supermarkets as part of their regular weekly shop and take it home to drink perfectly responsibly over a period. It's amazing politicians think voters would thank them for using the law to push up their shopping bills.

"And let's face it - sources of high-priced alcohol such as pubs and clubs are often the sources of insobriety."

He added that "there is a lot of nonsense talked about below-cost selling".

The WSTA said calls for government to set alcohol prices are "unfair", and called on politicians to work in partnership with the trade, police and local authorities to reduce alcohol harm.

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