Welsh retailers have reacted to the announcement that a minimum unit price on alcohol will be introduced in Wales, after legislation was approved by the Welsh Assembly earlier this week.

Tony Cristofaro, owner of Spar Landmark Place in Cardiff, expects the new law to follow the lead set by the minimum pricing legislation in Scotland.

”From what I’ve heard from retailers in Scotland I don’t expect the law to have a massive impact on our sales,” he said. “I expect it to be good for levelling the playing field between us and the multiples.

“I would assume that the Welsh government will copy Scotland and set the minimum price at 50p, which would mean only a slight change in our product range as most lines we sell wouldn’t be affected.

He added: “I’m confident that Spar and Blakemore will be able to provide me with POS material, closer to the time, to let customers know that the new law is going to be introduced.”

John Prichard, owner of Londis Bethesda in Gwynedd, agreed that c-store retailers in Wales need to have the right merchandising in order to prepare for the new legislation.

He said: “It’s a case of watch this space to see whether the government matches the minimum price in Scotland but we will need to have the right materials to let shoppers know about the changes.

“What we’ve noticed in the past is that Wales tends to be a testing ground for the UK government in terms of legislation, like we saw with the plastic bags. It will be interesting to see how everyone reacts to the new law and whether England follows suit.” 

The Public Health (Minimum Price for Alcohol) (Wales) Bill was first proposed in Wales on October 23 last year and is expected to be introduced in summer 2019.

The new law is designed to address health concerns around excess alcohol consumption in Wales, which is estimated to lead to 55,000 alcohol-related hospital admissions a year, costing the Welsh NHS £150m annually. 

Welsh health secretary Vaughan Gething said: “This legislation provides us with an opportunity for a step change.

“It gives us a chance to do more to address alcohol-related harms. And ultimately, it gives us a chance to do more to try to save lives. This legislation takes a sensible, targeted approach to a very real and evident problem in Wales today.”

The level for the minimum unit price in Wales will be announced later this year, following a public consultation.

The Scottish government introduced a 50p minimum unit price on alcohol in May and there has also been pressure on the UK government to introduce a similiar law in England.