The Federation of Independent Retailers has warned that plans by the Scottish government to introduce a display ban for alcohol is “naïve and a failure waiting to happen”.
In a formal submission to the Scottish government consultation on the issue, Ferhan Ashiq, the Fed’s immediate past president in Scotland, questioned the logic of introducing such legislation.
“How realistic is all this in a small shop with little space for stock?” asked Ferhan. “Sometimes I feel like handing in my keys to politicians and asking them to try running my shop amid this onslaught of legislation of all kinds affecting retailers.
“With the high costs of energy and goods - coming on the back of the stresses for businesses during the pandemic, retailers don’t have the mental or financial capacity to deal with any further legislation. We are burnt out. Some of our members’ businesses may not survive this year.”
Ferhan said retailers feel they are being singled out with all of the impending regulation facing them. “It feels like independent retailers are public enemy number one to the Scottish government. We face an onslaught of legislation, whether it is the deposit return scheme for bottles and cans, the banning of disposable vapes, the restrictions on high fat, sugar and salt foods (HFSS). We absolutely do not need this wrongheaded alcohol scheme too.
“Small shops are already in the frontline policing the law - preventing sales to children and to anyone who has visibly had too much or is trying to buy drink out of hours. Our members regularly face abuse and sometimes violence for doing this. Moreover, we comply with the law on minimum unit pricing of alcohol. Retailers are playing a major role in curbing alcohol abuse. It is time for the Scottish government to act upstream with effective public information campaigns.”
He suggested the government focus more on consumer education than introducing more legislation for store owners. “Independent retailers believe that the government should be tackling the issue of problem drinking through better health education and cultural change, not by penalising retailers who are trying to earn a living and providing a living for the people who work for us.”