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Alcohol at 14p per unit

A new study by Our Life, a public health campaign group in the North West of England, challenges the findings of the Competition Commission that supermarket promotions on alcohol are temporary and focused around Christmas and major sporting events.

They conducted 'mystery shopper' research in a range of supermarkets, during a period that was not in line with either a major event or a particular seasonal holiday such as Christmas or Easter. There was evidence of widespread discounting; in one store, more than half of the beer and lager products available were being sold as part of a promotional offer.

The cheapest alcohol found in this study was cider, at 14 pence per unit of alcohol in three different supermarkets. This was closely followed by Tesco imported lager, not on promotion, which cost 16 pence per unit. Non-alcoholic drinks, including alcohol-free beers, were not promoted so aggressively and could not be bought as cheaply as alcoholic drinks.

The authors suggest that at these prices, alcohol is no longer sold as a luxury, but is marketed as a staple good. They argue that this irresponsible retailing is strong justification for the introduction of a minimum price for alcohol.

Download the full report here. (pdf 2.7mb)