Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Minimum pricing

I don't often get political but minimum pricing is now officially on the government's agenda and a price of 45p per unit has been suggested.  I'm not sure of the exact figures but this will probably mean a can of standard strength lager priced at £1 will probably be unchanged or go up very slightly.  A bottle of wine will cost no less than about £4.00.  I have absolutely no idea what it will do to the price of spirits but it will probably put the cost of some cheap makes up quite a  bit .  However, what I am sure about is that the price of alcohol in pubs will be unaffected.  A friend of mine told me he was against minimum pricing because he did not want to pay more when he went to the pub.  I put him right of course but this is where the government needs to go on the offensive.  All I have heard today is how the sensible moderate drinker will be paying more for their alcohol.  Really?  I buy wine, I buy bottled beers.  The prices I pay on everything I buy in supermarkets or off-licenses costs me more than 50p per unit.  If something costs less it is not worth drinking or it will simply get you pissed very quickly at a lower price.  Is this what we want to encourage? 

A large proportion of 18-34 year olds now pre-load before going out for the evening.  This is something I never did when I was younger so I fail to understand this mentality.  I have always liked avoiding hangovers so I always try to stick within my limits.  My parents helped by allowing me to drink at Christmas from the age of 14 and by the time I was 16 I was drinking in pubs.  This actually helped me to learn about the danger of over drinking and I learned to respect it.  Nowadays we are obsessed with stopping under 18s drinking in pubs and they therefore drink at home and the low cost of doing this means this is what they grow accustomed to.  I also do not remember alcohol being substantially cheaper in supermarkets than it was in pubs.  That is no longer the case.  How can supermarkets justify selling alcohol at cost price?  It is grossly irresponsible.  It should also be illegal because they are distorting the market.   Pubs cannot do the same and so an uneven playing field has been created.  Also, if they are making a loss on the alcohol they sell then they are making up for it by selling food at higher prices to make up for it.  Pubs cannot compete on alcohol price when these tactics are employed.

I am against government telling us how to behave and it is said that minimum pricing is doing just that.  Again I have to disagee.  Minimum pricing is a direct result of the irresponsibility of supermarkets.  I am a moderate drinker and I am deeply saddened when I see pubs either closing down or struggling to survive.  Pubs are massive contributors to the economy.  The price disparity between alcohol in pubs and supermarkets has to be addressed and this is the first small step and it is something I will raise a glass to.

Happy drinking.

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