Retailers are frequently swamped with headlines proclaiming that Scotland’s Minimum Unit Pricing (MUP) has produced a downturn in alcohol-based sales. Various media outlets broadcast suggestion that customers are ‘ditching the drink’ due to price hikes on cider and wine. However, TRDP figures challenge such statements
From our own research and sales figures, Scottish customers aren’t forgoing their favourite alcoholic beverages just yet. Instead, MUP has shifted their preferences towards more lucrative tipple for retailers. We hit the streets of Edinburgh to survey C-store customers about their MUP knowledge and reactions.
Braving the bitterly cold winds of Edinburgh’s outskirts, only certain individuals were willing to stop for any form of discussion. So we’d advise that you don’t take this selection of quotes and reactions as an overall indicator on how MUP has affected the market. Yet, it should provide insight into public perception and awareness.
No Change In Habits
Unsurprisingly, if people want to drink at home for whatever occasion or reason, then MUP won’t stand in the way. From date or movie nights, to viewing football and sporting events, and everything in between, Minimum Unit Pricing has left the majority of whom we spoke unperturbed when it boils down to alcohol consumption.
‘It hasn’t changed my alcohol purchases. I still like drinking wine, and the price increase hasn’t been that big.’
‘I haven’t seen a huge increase in vodka or whisky prices. I buy the same amount as I did before.’
‘The only difference I’ve noticed is Tesco and the shop opposite my house sell beer at the same price. This wasn’t the case before.’
‘I very rarely drink at home. I always drink down my local pub. If I buy alcohol from a shop, it’s only for gatherings at the house. So MUP won’t change that. I’ll still buy the same stuff.’
‘If I want a drink, then I’ll buy a drink. The price rises have hardly broken the bank.’
‘Raising prices won’t stop me from drinking at home. Even with [MUP] changes, it’s still cheaper than going out.’
A Lack of Awareness
However, there is a different aspect to MUP – some people don’t know what it means. Most of the people we spoke to weren’t aware that Minimum Unit Pricing was a thing.
‘I only buy drink for special occasions. So I don’t really feel the effect of MUP. I didn’t even know what MUP was until you told me.’
‘What is MUP?’ was a question repeatedly asked by those we spoke with. Although the matter has received widespread exposure, due to the sheer number of online news outlets that people opt towards, recognition of MUP has not been picked up by the majority.
Arguably, with inflation and the continual rise of the cost of living, shoppers have simply taken the alcohol price rise on the chin – blaming current events. Several participants claimed that Brexit was answerable for the increase in alcohol cost.
‘Is MUP something to do with Brexit?’
‘Ever since we voted to leave the EU, I’ve noticed that drink has become more expensive.’
Some People Have Changed Their Spending Habits
That said, some are only too aware of the changes MUP has introduced. Backing up our theory, certain shoppers have moved across from the alcohol that’s been hardest hit by Minimum Unit Pricing and towards tradionally more expensive produce. For the same cost of previously cheap alcohol, customers can purchase harder liquor for the equivalent price. This starts an entirely different discussion - has MUP moved drinkers towards more damaging levels of alcohol consumption?
‘I don’t buy cider or beer any more. It’s too expensive.’
Perhaps the most worrying quote of the day:
‘Why pay twenty quid for beer when that can get me a bottle of Vodka?’
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