The Scottish government's decision to abandon plans for a minimum unit price for alcohol could have severe repercussions for smaller stores.

The proposal to introduce a 45p unit charge was defeated in the committee stage of the Alcohol Bill and is now unlikely to go ahead. While retailers have consistently argued that the move would not achieve its aim of stopping alcohol abuse, many also believe it could have curbed the below-cost selling tactics of supermarket groups.

Other proposals in the Bill that could still be imposed include a ban on multibuy promotions, giving local authorities powers to raise the age of alcohol purchase, and restrictions on in-store advertising and promotional leaflets which would see stores banned from advertising alcohol in their neighbourhoods.

Scottish Grocers' Federation (SGF) chief executive John Drummond said that without minimum pricing there would be no mechanism to stop the big supermarkets selling alcohol at rock-bottom prices.

"Not only would this undermine the intention of the Bill to address Scotland's harmful relationship with alcohol it will also reduce the opportunity for small shops to attract customers from supermarkets and perpetuate a commercial advantage for the biggest players," he added.

While multibuy deals such as three for £10 would be outlawed under the Bill, SGF argues that without an agreed price mechanism, larger stores could simply sell individual bottles at £3.33, or offer various SKUs at different price points.

SGF believes that sufficient restrictions on legitimate alcohol retailers are already in place.