Retailers have been stung by above-inflation increases on alcohol and cigarettes in Chancellor Alistair Darling's first Budget.
In a bid to curb binge drinking, the price of beer has jumped by 4p a pint, wine by 14p a bottle, cider by 3p a litre and spirits by 55p a bottle.
The duty on alcohol would continue to increase by 2% above inflation over the next four years, Darling added.
The decision is a further blow for retailers who are having to contend with increases to the National Minimum Wage and gas, electricity and water rates.
"The next few months will certainly be tough," said independent retailer Paresh Patel, who runs a Mace store in Bow, London.
Increasing the price of alcohol would do nothing to cure the binge-drinking culture, added Stephen Robertson, director general of the British Retail Consortium. "The key issue is changing our culture and encouraging awareness of sensible drinking, a process that retailers are committed to. The problem with taxation on alcohol is that it's a blunt instrument that raises the price to millions of consumers who drink responsibly."
Tobacco products have also been hit, with the price of cigarettes rising by 11p for a packet of 20, the price of five cigars by 4p, and hand-rolling tobacco rising by 11p per 25g.
l Plans for a new family business tax to avoid so-called 'income shifting' have been deferred, the Chancellor announced.

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