Monday, 23 April 2012

Cheap as chips?

One of the favourite pieces of misinformation put about by the anti-drink lobby is that, over time, alcohol has become “more affordable”. Well, yes it has, but only in terms of the number of minutes’ work needed to buy a pint. As living standards have progressively improved, in practice pretty much everything has become “more affordable”, and the only really honest way of tracking movements in the relative value of things over time is by comparing them with general price inflation.

Indeed, as explained here on the Straight Statistics blog, in fact “Alcohol has become more affordable, but more slowly than other items.” Using the NHS’s own figures:

As the NHS IC’s table makes clear, the price of alcohol has risen more swiftly than the retail price index since 1980. Setting both at 100 in 1980, the retail price index in 2010 was 334.5, while the alcohol price index was 411.2; so over this period alcohol prices have risen nearly 23 per cent faster than retail prices as a whole.
In comparison with the general level of prices, alcoholic drinks have actually become dearer, not cheaper. And the post also points out that there are significant problems in any case with the measure of income used as the base for the calculation of “affordability”.


  1. Increased affordability of things is called prosperity. Judging by the fact people the world over vote for who they believe will deliver prosperity you have to assume it's popular and generally a good thing.

    But you can also prove owt with statistics. You're own anecdotal evidence is enough. You know what you earned 10 years ago. You know what things cost back then. You can do the same now. You know if you are better off than you were. You don't need government stats to tell you that.

    You also know that off trade booze represents good value not having risen in price that much and on trade booze seems to have gone up more than it should. More than it should compared with the food service industry. A meal has not gone up in price that much and people have to do more than pour it into a glass and hand it over.

    So talk of pubs being "great value" is bollocks and a few beer geeks believing such crap ain't about to butter no parsnips.

    Putting the "great value" back, is related to how you turn round the 50 or so a week that are shutting.

  2. Yes, this myth of affordability and "cheap as chips" talk really annoys me.

  3. I started drinking in pubs in about 1978. At that time, a pint of bitter cost 35p. I have just used an online calculator based on the RPI which tells me that 35p then buys me £1.57 now. If I could buy a pint in a pub for that, I would be well happy. And the bansturbators tell us that booze has got cheaper in real terms?


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