Calling time on booze curbs

Trade bodies blast proposed restrictions

Till area of convenience store
The way c-stores are able to sell alcohol would change radically under the plans.

DRINK and retail trade bodies have united to condemn proposals to severely restrict alcohol marketing in Scotland.

The Scottish Government is carrying out a consultation, which ends on 9 March, on the measures that have been labelled as “draconian”.

If introduced, shops would be restricted from displaying alcohol in windows, at the end of aisles, having sections selling alcohol across from or next to those selling non-alcoholic items, and alcohol displayed behind tills would have to be covered – in a similar style to tobacco products.

Wider advertising restrictions that will impact on producers are also being consulted on and many distilleries and breweries have already voiced their fears.

Now a joint letter from the trade groups warns that, if the proposals go ahead, they will cause significant harm to Scotland’s businesses, push up prices for consumers and hold the country back “to the detriment of Scottish society”.

The organisations, including the Scottish Grocers’ Federation, Scottish Retail Consortium and Scottish Wholesale Association, argue the moves won’t reduce harmful drinking and will be likely to push up crime as shoplifters will be able to steal booze from unmonitored areas.

The letter also highlights that retailers would face costs of £15,000 for smaller convenience stores up to £25,000 and more for larger stores to implement the measures.

SGF chief exec Pete Cheema said: “Convenience stores rely heavily on being able to provide a range of goods and services for their customers, and responsible selling of alcohol products is an important part of that.

“Inevitably, the additional cost and loss of income will be passed on to households already reeling from the cost-of-living crisis.”

The Fed has also spoken out against the proposals, with Scottish president Aleem Farooqi dismissing them as “simplistic, unworkable and another massive threat to the livelihoods of independent retailers”.

A ScotGov spokesperson said: “We are consulting on views on the most appropriate next steps in reducing alcohol-related harm, which is one of the most pressing public health challenges that we face in Scotland.

“No decisions have been taken. We are meeting a number of stakeholders during the consultation period to hear directly from them.”