Drinkers rush to beat Budget

17 March, 2008

Drinks retailers experienced a surge in sales at the end of last week as customers flocked to stores to stock up on alcohol before duty was increased.

In his Budget speech on Wednesday, chancellor Alastair Darling announced he would be adding an extra 3p to cider, 4p to beer, 14p to wine and 55p to spirits but not until midnight yesterday – giving drinkers four days grace before the duty rise.

Retailers who spoke to OLN said trade was noticeably higher over the weekend as shoppers rushed to buy alcohol before prices shot up.

Sales were up 50 per cent at Majestic on Friday alone and a spokeswoman said customers continued to buy more over the weekend.

At Laithwaites sales have increased by 45 per cent across all channels – internet, telephone, and mail – since the Budget announcement on Wednesday.

Tanners Wine Merchants, which sells wine and spirits at four stores in the west of England and Wales, on the internet and by mail order, saw sales rise in all places after it sent out a special “beat the Budget” email to customers on Friday urging them to take advantage of case deals.

“We definitely saw a big increase in the number of people making orders and making sure they were all tied up by Wednesday which is when we put our prices up,” said a spokeswoman.

“In store, Alastair Darling’s name was mentioned quite a lot. People were saying to us ‘I’d rather give my money to you than Alastair Darling.’”

The supermarkets too noticed a boost to sales. "We saw a marked increase in trading across beers, wines and spirits from Thursday to Sunday last week following the chancellor's Budget, on top of what is an already strong like for like sales period," said a spokesperson for Tesco.

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