Monday 12 November 2018

Alcohol sales up four per cent since minimum pricing

Six months after the introduction of minimum pricing in Scotland, data emerges in dribs and drabs. We'll have to wait for at least a year for official data on alcohol-related deaths, although we may get some modelled estimates and propaganda from the 'public health' lobby before then.

In the meantime, various sales figures have been released. So far, my prediction of a big fall in strong cider sales combined with a rise in spirits sales seems to have been borne out (not that this was hard to predict).

White cider sales are indeed down...

Sales of super-strength Frosty Jack’s cider have plummeted by 70 per cent in Scotland since minimum booze pricing came in, a report reveals.

The Retail Data Partnership found the sales value for the tipple, which contains 22.5 units per three-litre bottle, fell from £148,605 between May and September 2017 to £46,289 in the same period this year.

But the Retail Data Partnership also found that overall alcohol sales in the convenience sector rose by 14.9 per cent between May and July compared to the previous period in 2017. They confirm that 'gin sales leaped hugely', as was first reported in October:

Brian Eagle-Brown of The Retail Data Partnership (TRDP) gave an overview of convenience performance in recent months, noting that alcohol sales were up “across the board” since the implementation of MUP.

“What was unexpected is that the result of minimum pricing is not declining, but actually increasing alcohol sales. Gin sales are up 90% year on year,” he said.

It was recently reported that Scots are drinking an extra two million bottles of wine since MUP was implemented. As for Scotland's best selling beer...

Tennent’s owner C&C Group said Scotland’s best-selling lager brand had traded well since the introduction of minimum unit pricing north of the Border.... During the six months to the end of August, Tennent’s volumes were up by 1 per cent in the off-trade...

And there's then Scotland's most notorious tipple, the caffeinated wine Buckfast AKA wreck-the-hoose-juice...

Scots are glugging an extra 3,600 bottles of Buckfast a day in the wake of minimum pricing. Sales of ‘Bucky’ have soared since the SNP’s crackdown on cheap alcohol, with Scots drinkers turning to the potent tonic wine.

Nats introduced minimum unit pricing in May and sales of Buckfast have since risen by £5.3million to £36.5million.

It should be noted that both Tennent's and Buckfast cost more than 50p a unit before minimum pricing was introduced. It is not surprising that semi-premium drinks priced just above 50p have benefited from MUP (indeed, the makers of Tennent's actively lobbied for the policy). More interesting is the impact on the total market. So far, volumes are up...

Scots spent 11 per cent more on drink, and consumed four per cent more, than in the same 24 weeks last year.

I don't remember a rise in alcohol sales being in the model. Do you?

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