Monday, 20 October 2008

Fifty pence too much

It's disappointing that The Publican have decided to put their weight behind a campaign to impose a 50p per unit minimum price on all alcoholic drinks. Do they not realise that these beggar-my-neighbour tactics will damage the entire drinks trade and simply play into the hands of the neo-prohibitionists?

For many people, drinking in the pub is quite simply not a realistic option, and so to put up the price of a pensioner’s bottle of cheap Scotch from £8.99 to £14 – an overnight rise of over 50% – will reflect very badly indeed. In reality, in the midst of a recession, no government is going to impose swingeing increases on the price of take-home alcohol that would hit working-class families very hard in the pocket.

This wouldn’t free up a single extra penny for people to spend in pubs, and it is hard to see how in practice it would do anything to help their business. The businesses who would be licking their lips are the manufacturers of home brew kits and the owners of discount booze warehouses in Calais. It is one thing to use minimum pricing as a way of curbing cheap multibuy offers, something else entirely to use it to raise the general price level of mainstream products.

If your business is struggling, you need to look at ways of increasing its appeal, not try to prop it up by hobbling the competition.

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