Retailers on top of MUP roll out

Report finds c-stores as good as multiples

MUP has led to some convenience stores delisting high-strength cider

SCOTTISH retailers have been commended for effectively implementing minimum unit pricing (MUP).

A new report published by NHS Health Scotland found that MUP has been “well implemented” across the board since it was introduced on 1 May 2018.

NHS Health Scotland’s latest MUP evaluation covered the effectiveness of implementation, and touched on some of the effects the policy has had on stores.

Interviews with Police Scotland licensing officers, Trading Standards officers and licensing standards officers (LSO) revealed that there were limited examples of non-compliance, with any issues “swiftly resolved.”

Interviewees also said that while there had been an expectation that larger supermarkets would be more compliant with the policy than smaller independents, in reality the entire sector performed to a similar standard.

LSOs added that they had made use of the Scottish Grocers Federation’s MUP calculator throughout implementation, describing it as a “key tool” for officers, with some accessing it to check prices in store while on the job.

One key consequence of MUP implementation, highlighted by LSOs, was the delisting of large-volume high-strength ciders across many independent stores.

One unnamed LSO said: “In this area you virtually can’t buy a bottle of white cider any more.”

Another unnamed LSO added that some stores may have used MUP to increase prices for products unaffected by the policy.

They said: “In fact, a lot of [small retailers] have used the minimum unit price as an opportunity to just creep up all of their alcohol prices and blame it on Nicola Sturgeon.”

For stores close to the border, the report found evidence of some consumers choosing to purchase their alcohol in England – including through supermarket delivery services.

One unnamed Police Scotland local divisional licensing officer described an English party bus running a cross border ‘booze cruise’ service.

They said: “It tends to be on the east coast from [unnamed border town] and they go up touring the area.”