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Spirits sales drop by 4.9% after MUP

Sales of spirits fell by 4.9% per adult in Scotland following the introduction of minimum unit pricing (MUP) in May 2018.

MUP Scotland
Scotland’s introduction of MUP caused a decline in alcohol sales

Scottish parliament introduced an MUP for alcohol of at least 50p per unit on 1 May 2018. Before its introduction, researchers had estimated it could reduce alcohol consumption in the country by around 3.5% per drinker each year.

New data from Public Health Scotland (PHS) showed a 3% net reduction per adult in total alcohol sales in the three year-period following the implementation of MUP.

The drop in alcohol sales from May 2018 to May 2021 was driven by the off-trade, which fell by 3.6%, with no impact found on sales in restaurants and bars.

By category, pear cider (perry) experienced the biggest decline, plummeting by 31.6%, followed by cider with a 13.5% slump.

Spirits decreased by 4.9%, while beer was down by 2.3%, and ready-to-drink products by 0.5%.

Wine and fortified wine, on the other hand, increased by 0.6% and 13.5%, respectively.

PHS said this data ‘strengthens’ an earlier report that showed a 3.6% decline in off-trade alcohol sales in the first year after MUP’s introduction. PHS notes that these findings have shown a sustained fall in alcohol sales.

The method for collating the data was adjusted for Covid-19 restrictions (including the closure of the on-trade), and was compared to other nations such as England and Wales, where MUP has not been implemented.

Lucie Giles, public health intelligence principal at PHS, said: “The latest data shows a reduction in per-adult sales of pure alcohol in Scotland at the same time an increase in England and Wales was observed.

“We found little evidence to suggest that MUP caused any changes in per-adult sales of alcohol through the on-trade, suggesting that MUP did not cause a substantial shift towards alcohol consumption in pubs.”

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