Retailers remain confident that strict new alcohol guidelines and anti-drinking campaigns won’t put a cork in sales of beers, wines and spirits.
Guidelines announced last week from the country’s leading medical officers ruled there is “no safe level of drinking” and recommended that weekly limits of consumption be cut. The first full review of alcohol guidelines since 1995 advised that both men and women should stick to 14 units of alcohol a week compared with the previously recommended 21 units for men and 14 for women.
However, Jai Singh, owner of Go Local Extra in Sheffield, still forecast a strong year for alcohol. He said: “I don’t believe consumers on the whole will take health warnings too seriously. Customers’ habits have changed and they no longer prefer to buy alcohol in bulk, leaning more towards smaller quantities of alcohol and high-end wines, but alcohol is still predicted to be one of our strongest categories this year.”
Some store owners expect January sales to be lower, though, as consumers make New Year’s resolutions and follow anti-drinking campaigns such as ‘Dry January’.
Mohammad Afzal, who owns a Nisa Local in Oxford, said: “Over the past few years customers have become more health conscious and I have witnessed a slight decline in alcohol sales. This is more the case during the start of the year. In response, sales of tea and energy drinks go up in January and February, but overall I still expect alcohol to be one of our biggest sellers.”
Spar Cardiff owner Tony Cristofaro said: “The majority of our customers who buy alcohol will continue to, and with sporting events in the summer such as the football European Championships and Olympics, I expect sales to go up.”
Belvedere Food and Wine owner Amit Patel added: “Some customers are cutting down, but the biggest driving force behind a small decline for us is competition from supermarkets and discounters who are able to offer better deals.”
England’s chief medical officer said the aim of the guidelines was to allow the public to make informed decisions about drinking. Dame Sally Davies added: “Drinking any level of alcohol regularly carries a health risk, but if men and women limit their intake to no more than 14 units a week it keeps the risk of illness like cancer and liver disease low.”
Units of alcohol:
Shot of spirits (25ml): 1
Standard (175ml) glass of wine: 2.1; large (250ml): 3
Pint of 4%-strength beer: 2.3
Nutritional info put on beer packs
Budweiser, Stella Artois and Beck’s brewer AB InBev UK has pledged to put full nutritional information on packs and online.
Consumers will soon be able to see full ingredient and nutritional information for its beers, including energy values, fat, saturated fats, carbohydrates, sugars, proteins and salt.
The changes will begin this year and be in place on at least 80% of AB InBev’s European’s volumes by the end of 2017.
The pledge follows a survey by IPSOS Mori for AB InBev that revealed UK consumers have limited knowledge of the calories in beer.