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MUP drives down Scottish off-trade alcohol sales

Off-trade alcohol sales in Scotland fell by 3.6% in the 12 months following the implementation of minimum unit pricing (MUP), while sales in England and Wales increased, a new report has found.

Alcohol sales in Scotland fell 3.6% following the introduction of minimum unit pricing

The volume of pure alcohol sold per adult in the off-trade in Scotland decreased from 7.4 litres between May 2017 and April 2018 to 7.1 litres from May 2019 to April 2019, according to the report from NHS Health Scotland.

In the 12-months following the implementation of MUP, per adult sales of cider fell the most, down 18.6%, while sales of spirits fell by 3.8% and beer sales dipped by 1.1%. Fortified wine was the only category to see an increase in sales post-MUP.

Lucie Giles, public health intelligence advisor at NHS Health Scotland, said: “This is the first time we have been able to analyse sales data covering the full year following the introduction of MUP, and it is encouraging that off-trade alcohol sales fell in Scotland following its implementation.

“Today’s findings show that the scale of change varies according to drink category. For example, per adult sales of cider saw the greatest decrease, and this was likely to be associated with cider having the greatest relative increase in average sales price, once MUP came into force.”

While alcohol sales in Scotland fell in the 12 months to April 2019, south of the border the volume of pure alcohol sold increased from 6.3 to 6.5 litres during the same period.

Giles added: “The analysis of per adult sales data in the north east and north west of England did not provide evidence of substantial cross-border purchasing. We will continue to examine a variety of data sources to ensure we understand cross-border activity as far as possible.

“This analysis of alcohol sales and price in the off-trade is one of several in our evaluation portfolio that will examine the impact of MUP on the price of alcohol and population level alcohol consumption. Further studies looking at longer term, post-MUP data will report in due course”.

In May 2018, MUP was introduced in Scotland, raising the average price of off-trade alcohol in Scotland by 5 pence per unit (ppu) from 55ppu to 60ppu. The price increase was not rolled out across England and Wales.

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