The latest shock news is that heavy drinkers in Scotland are paying an average of only 34p for a unit of alcohol. But, hang on a second, that is a typical price for lower-end products in the marketplace, equating to £2.99 for 4x440ml cans of 5% lager, £3.32 for a bottle of 13% wine, and £9.52 for a bottle of Scotch or vodka. Off-licence shelves are groaning with products at that kind of price – it’s not as if it’s some irresponsible loss-leading mega-deal.
The report states that the average price paid by drinkers in Scotland is 70p per unit, but that is across the on- and off-trades. I’d like to bet that the average price paid in the off-trade is not too far above 34p, and certainly below 40p. “Drinkers pay normal prices for alcohol” – now that wouldn’t be a sensational headline, would it? And maybe “Normal drink prices to be hiked – poor hit hardest” would expose the true agenda rather more clearly.