Supermarkets could be forced to set up booze-only checkouts in the latest proposed restrictions on the sale of alcohol.

The Home Office is believed to be considering creating alcohol-only areas in big stores, to deter bulk purchases and identify underage buyers.

Jeremy Beadles, chief executive of the Wine and Spirits Trade Association, said that a similar scheme in Morrisons stores had seen sales increase. "The evidence suggests separate checkouts actually increase sales of alcohol. Politicians should be working with police to enforce the many laws we have that are not yet used."

The Association of Convenience Stores has reacted in similar vein to calls from the Department of Health for a code of practice for alcohol retailers.

ACS chief executive James Lowman said: "A code would just duplicate existing laws. Rather than create a further burden on responsible retailers, authorities need guidance to use existing laws to target the minority of problem premises."