Scottish retailers remain positive about the impact of minimum unit pricing, nearly a month after the legislation was introduced in Scotland on May 1.
Mo Razzaq, owner of Family Shopper Blantyre, in Glasgow, said his store had benefited from an increase in alcohol sales after he stopped stocking lines affected by minimum pricing.
He said: “We’ve taken out our range of ciders because they were just too expensive after the new legislation. But sales have actually gone up as a result.
“Customers have moved to buying other alcoholic products, like beers and wines, which means our margins have also increased. I would say alcohol sales have increased by 15% for us.”
Mo added that the new legislation had closed the gap between alcohol prices in the supermarkets and independent stores.
“The supermarkets can no longer offer the kind of multi-pack promotions they were running before,” he said, “which is good news for us.”
Calum Duncan, manager of Crown Stores in Inverness, agreed.
“Alcohol sales have drastically increased since minimum unit pricing was introduced,” he said, “as much as £800 more a day.
“There is no point in people going to supermarkets for cheap alcohol now. They come to us and pick other things up too. It has really levelled the playing field, which is brilliant for independents.”
However, Calum said he was concerned about the development of the illicit alcohol trade going forward as more shoppers look to evade the new pricing.
The Federation of Wholesale Distributors (FWD) pointed out that some consumers may order stock online to escape the minimum unit price increases.
FWD chief executive James Bielby said: “With regard to shoppers, what you may see is an increase in online purchases of alcohol by the public as the legislation doesn’t cover alcohol bought online if it is dispatched from an operation based in England.”
However, Steven Wilson, owner of Scott Street Convenience Store in Galashiels, said his customers remain confused about which lines have been affected by minimum unit pricing.
“Customers are still coming in and asking if the alcohol range has gone up in price,” he said. “Many believe the whole section is affected by minimum unit pricing and I keep having to tell them it’s only the larger and stronger ciders, which are above the 50p unit price, that have changed.
“Some retailers have also been confused by the changes. What I didn’t realise, until I spoke to the manager at the Booker cash and carry, is that you can still sell price marked products as long as they are above the minimum unit price.”
Commenting on the impact of minimum unit pricing on independent retailers, a spokesperson from the Scottish Grocers Federation (SGF) said: “We have worked very closely with the Scottish government and other key stakeholders to ensure that both retailers and customers were fully aware of MUP and its impact in-store. Once again retailers have shown a remarkable willingness to adapt to the new regulations, to ensure they are fully compliant and to selling alcohol responsibly.”