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Fears beer price hikes will send sales north

January 11th, 2022 10:10 PM

By Kieran O'Mahony

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A WEST Cork retailer has said the introduction of minimum unit pricing of alcohol is ‘ill-conceived and a knee-jerk reaction’ in dealing with the problems of alcohol in the country.

Minimum unit pricing sets a price beneath which alcohol cannot legally be sold and targets products that are cheap, relative to their strength. It’s designed to reduce the harms caused by misuse of alcohol, but there are fears it could prompt a return to the old days of travelling up North to stock up on alcohol, which is now substantially cheaper there.

Colm O’Sullivan of Sam’s Gala in Dunmanway was reacting to the new pricing which came into effect on Tuesday, that has seen the prices of many slabs of well-known lagers almost double in price.

‘This had been flagged to all retailers, but I’m not sure if the general public were made aware of the implications.

‘It didn’t look that dramatic with small increases in the price of a bottle of wine or whiskey. But it wasn’t until I did the calculations for our 24 packs of beer – which I did twice – that I saw that the prices were almost doubling,’ said Colm. He described the new prices as ‘absolutely horrendous’ and said that no retailer wants to be increasing their prices, especially at this time of the year.

‘People were horrified when I posted up on our Facebook page on Monday the before and after prices, and it received a huge reaction from people,’ he said. ‘For example a 24 pack of Budweiser cans increases from €29 to €47.34, which is a significant increase.’

Trade at Sam’s Gala was ‘incredible’ all day Monday, according to Colm, and he reckons they sold about 60 slabs of beer as customers stocked up, but he said – interestingly – that they sold no slabs of beer on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, Derek Matson, who runs a number of off-licences, including Matson’s Wine Store in Bandon, said the introduction of minimum unit pricing of alcohol is a ‘good thing.’

‘This is actually the price of alcohol. It’s not €15 for a slab of beer when you’re paying €38 for it, and can’t be for sale for that price after it.

‘That’s something some of the public may not understand,’ said Derek.

‘This is real pricing and it’s certainly a good thing. It’s going to stop the slab of beer being the first thing people buy when they come into a supermarket.’

He said this won’t affect the people who go into an off-licence to buy a four-pack every few days, and he feels it will help alleviate the problem of alcohol misuse in the country.

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