Coalition government plans to ban the sale of alcohol below cost will have next to no impact on the multiples, independent retailers believe.

The plans, set to be announced by the Home Office later today, will ban stores and bars from selling drinks for less than the value of duty and VAT owed on them - meaning that a can of lager must cost a minimum of 38p and a litre of vodka £10.71.

Londis retailer Dee Sedani from Etwall in Derby said the plans would make very little difference to the multiple’s trading practices.

“They’ll just adopt new ways of making alcohol purchases attractive, such as offering it with free soft drinks,” he said.

Other retailers are indifferent to the plans while some, such as Mark Johnson of Celebrations Off licence in Stockport, have welcomed them as a small step in the right direction.

Retail trade associations have been far more scathing. The Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) accused ministers of “ducking the tough decision on below cost sales,” by defining the cost of alcoholic drinks simply as tax, with no account for the cost of producing, distributing or selling the products. 

“As a result of this decision, the government’s impending ban on below cost selling of alcohol will barely affect the supermarket promotions that have attracted so much criticism,” chief executive James Lowman said.

The Federation of Wholesale Distributors (FWD) also said that ministers had “missed an opportunity” to stamp out the problem and “adopt a more realistic model that reflected the true cost of putting alcoholic products on the shelf".

“Aggressive below cost price promotions by multiple supermarkets have an adverse effect on FWD members and their customers, thereby undermining the competitiveness of the overall grocery market, and the ineffective definition of below cost adopted by the Government will do nothing to prevent this,” chief executive James Bielby said.