Tuesday 31 January 2023

Scots buying more alcohol from England

Further to this morning's post about minimum pricing, Public Health Scotland put out another report today. Based on survey data, it found that the proportion of Scots who have bought alcohol in England to bring back to Scotland rose from 13% in 2021 to 19% in 2022.

The report downplays this somewhat...

In 2022, a majority of 81% of 1,014 respondents did not report ever purchasing alcohol from across the border with England in person. Only 5% (54 respondents) reported travelling for the sole purpose of buying alcohol to bring back to Scotland. A larger proportion of 19% (191 respondents) reported bringing alcohol back to Scotland that they had purchased on a visit for another purpose because it is cheaper there than in Scotland.

"Only" 5%?! If the survey is representative, that's well over 200,000 people going over the English border purely to buy booze to bring back to Scotland. Considering how far most Scots live from the border, that's an incredible statistic. Off licence owners in the north of England should drink a toast to Nicola Sturgeon.

A further 14% are taking the opportunity of travelling to England to bring back some relatively cheap alcohol. It shows how much minim pricing is hitting drinkers in the pocket.

I'd love to see the same stats for Wales, where England is a stone's throw away for large numbers of people. If the Public Health Scotland report is any guide, a lot of them will have been heading over the Severn Bridge to get to an English Asda. 

Among the minority of 10% of panel members in Scotland who reported living within 60 minutes’ travel from the border with England (n=102) it was more common to report buying alcohol across the border, with 22% having travelled for the sole purpose of buying alcohol and 27% having bought alcohol while travelling for another purpose.

The Scottish government's claim that minimum pricing has worked rests solely on alcohol sales dropping slightly in Scotland while they rose slightly in England. I wonder how much of that is due to cross-border shopping?

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