Off-trade sales fall in MUP’s first year

Costcutter craft beer selection

The volume of pure alcohol sold per adult in Scotland fell by 3.6% in the year following the introduction of Minimum Unit Pricing (MUP), according to a study conducted by NHS Health Scotland.

Compared to the twelve months which preceded implementation of MUP in May 2018, the volume of pure alcohol sold per adult in the off-trade in Scotland decreased from 7.4 to 7.1 litres.

This boils down to the average adult in Scotland cutting consumption by the equivalent of about a 70cl bottle of vodka. What it also means is that they’re still downing in the region of 27 bottles a year.

In England & Wales – with no MUP in place – the figure rose from 6.3 to 6.5 litres.

Sales of cider fell the most (down 18.6%), while sales of spirits fell by 3.8%, and sales of beer remained relatively stable (down 1.1%). Sales of cider, spirits and beer all increased in England & Wales over the same time period. Fortified wine – already priced above 50p per unit anyway – was the only drink category where sales increased in Scotland.

The findings also suggest Scots aren’t crossing the border to bulk buy booze in any great numbers; alcohol sales in the north of England were similar to the rest of England & Wales.

However, Lucie Giles, Public Health Intelligence Advisor at NHS Health Scotland, said: “We will continue to examine a variety of data sources to ensure we understand cross-border activity as far as possible.”

NHS Health Scotland plans to conduct further studies looking at longer term, post-MUP data.

The Scottish government will review the MUP level after May, two years on from its introduction.