Minimum alcohol prices for off-licences and other shops come into force

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The new measure, which is not a tax, came into effect last week, having been agreed by the Licensing Assembly last December as part of an attempt to deter problem levels of drinking.

It is now illegal to sell alcoholic drinks at less than 50 pence per unit of alcohol. A 70cl bottle of vodka (40% alcohol by volume) must now cost at least £14, while a 500ml can of lager (4% ABV) would have to be priced at £1 or more, and ‘super-strength’ lager of 8% would cost at least £2.

Mark Cox, acting chief executive of the Channel Islands Co-operative Society, said he did not expect a major impact.

‘As a responsible retailer, we have always steered clear of selling alcohol below cost, or any deals that could be deemed to promote irresponsible drinking,’ he said. ‘To comply with the new law we have had to increase prices slightly on around 30 products across our beers, wines and spirits – this represents less than 1% of our total range.’

Simon Soar, chief executive of the Jersey Hospitality Association, said the new moves partially rectified the imbalance between the off- and on-trade.

‘It dates back to 2000, when it was made illegal for on-trade licensees to take part in price-cutting or other promotions that could encourage excessive drinking,’ he said.

Mr Soar said the JHA had renewed calls for action regarding the off-trade last year, when some shops were selling alcohol at prices he described as ‘clearly loss-leading’, with retailers prepared to sell some products at below cost in order to encourage customers to enter their shops and also purchase more profitable items.

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