Alcohol sales drop since minimum pricing

Alcohol sales

Sales in Scotland fell slightly, compared to an increase in England and Wales 

28th January 2020 by Gareth Jones 0 Comments

Alcohol sales have dropped since the introduction of minimum pricing, research has shown.

The first analysis of off-trade alcohol sales over the full year following the introduction of Minimum Unit Pricing (MUP) shows the volume of pure alcohol sold per adult in Scotland fell by 3.6%.

Compared to the 12 months which preceded implementation of MUP in May 2018, the volume of pure alcohol sold per adult in the off-trade in Scotland decreased from 7.4 to 7.1 litres. This is equivalent to a reduction of 26 units each annually – around 12 pints of average strength beer.

In England and Wales – where MUP has not been implemented – the volume of pure alcohol sold in the off-trade during the same year increased from 6.3 to 6.5 litres.

Sales of cider fell the most (down 18.6%), while sales of spirits fell by 3.8%, and sales of beer remained relatively stable (down 1.1%). Sales of cider, spirits and beer all increased in England and Wales over the same time period.

Lucie Giles, public health intelligence advisor at NHS Health Scotland, said: “This is the first time we have been able to analyse sales data covering the full year following the introduction of MUP, and it is encouraging that off-trade alcohol sales fell in Scotland following its implementation.

“Today’s findings show that the scale of change varies according to drink category. For example, per adult sales of cider saw the greatest decrease, and this was likely to be associated with cider having the greatest relative increase in average sales price, once MUP came into force.

“The analysis of per adult sales data in the North East and North West of England did not provide evidence of substantial cross-border purchasing. We will continue to examine a variety of data sources to ensure we understand cross-border activity as far as possible.

“This analysis of alcohol sales and price in the off-trade is one of several in our evaluation portfolio that will examine the impact of MUP on the price of alcohol and population level alcohol consumption. Further studies looking at longer term, post-MUP data will report in due course.”

Public health minister Joe FitzPatrick said: “We have seen a change in the average price of alcohol, with the average price per unit rising by approximately 5p in Scotland compared to England and Wales.

“While the impact of reduced consumption will take a little longer to show, I remain convinced MUP is one of the main drivers in reducing alcohol harm.”