Public Health Scotland (PHS) have published a report which evaluates the price and range of alcohol products in the Scottish off-trade sector in the 12 months following the implementation of Minimum Unit Pricing of alcohol (MUP).

The research shows that the average price of alcoholic drinks in the off-trade increased in Scotland to a greater extent than was seen in England and Wales over the same period. The increase in average prices during the study period was also greater than the rises seen between the two years in Scotland prior to MUP.

Before the implementation of MUP, supermarkets tended to have lower alcohol pricing than convenience stores. In the first 12 months after the introduction of MUP, prices in supermarkets increased more than those in convenience stores, meaning that both had a similar pricing level.

The greatest increases in price were seen in the types of alcoholic drinks that were priced the lowest relative to their alcohol by volume (ABV) prior to MUP, such as some ciders, perries and supermarket own-brand spirits – all of which tended to be priced below £0.50 per unit prior to MUP being implemented. The products that increased the least in average price, such as some ready-to-drink beverages, or those that decreased in price, such as some fortified wines in convenience stores, appeared most likely to see increased sales.

Changes were seen in sales across different container sizes, including reductions in the amount sold in larger single-item containers, especially for some ciders and own-brand spirits in containers of 1 litre and over. The amount of beer and cider sold in the largest multipacks also declined, while sales in smaller multipacks increased.

Dr Karl Ferguson, Public Health Intelligence Adviser at Public Health Scotland, said:

“In the first 12 months after MUP was implemented, we found that, especially for products that were priced below £0.50 per unit of alcohol prior to MUP, prices went up, the amount sold in larger container sizes went down, and sales also declined. We also found that, because of the price increase, even in instances where the volume of sales went down, the value (£) of sales remained fairly constant or increased.”

Most data (price outcomes, container size, multipacks, volume and value sales) were derived from weekly off-trade electronic point of sale data covering May 2016 to April 2019, obtained from market research specialist NielsenIQ.