In the latest step on the long march to Prohibition, the government have announced that they are going to ban discounts for multiple purchases of alcoholic drinks. The article describes this in the context of wine, but of course it will also affect all those 4 for £6 offers on premium bottled ales, and 3 for £20 on slabs of Carling.
This is presented as a way of reducing overall consumption, as it is argued that these offers encourage people to buy and drink more than they otherwise would have. But surely, for most people, it is simply a case of buying in advance in a planned and cost-effective way. And it marks a move away from simply targeting identifiable “problem drinkers” to ordinary, responsible members of society who just happen to drink a bit more than the absurdly low and scientifically groundless official guidelines.
It will also adversely affect the business of small independent brewers and winemakers, as you might well be tempted to make up a multibuy with an unfamiliar bottle, but if you have to pay full price for everything you are more likely to stick to the tried and trusted. And retailers won’t just sit back and do nothing – inevitably they will come up with different forms of promotion concentrating on varying single-product discounts.
A similar ban has been in force in Scotland for a year. There were initial reports of a substantial fall in sales, but that was probably mainly due to people stocking up before it came in. Can any Scottish readers comment on how retailers have responded to it a year down the line?
You might hope there would be something of a backlash against this from the Conservatives’ and LibDems’ natural supporters stocking up their car boots at Waitrose, but it is perennially disappointing how supinely people seem to take all this bullying nonsense. It seems they have been conned into thinking it is all for their own good, when in reality it represents a relentless erosion of their freedoms. Don’t expect the official opposition to do anything either – their response is more likely to be that the measures don’t go far enough.
And just wait for the divide-and-rule dupes saying that it will help pubs compete against supermarkets on a more level playing field.