Who: Home Office
When: November 2012
Law stated as at: 31 December 2012
The Home Office has launched a consultation on a number of measures it proposes to take relating to the sale of alcohol. The aim of the measures is to reduce alcohol-fuelled violent crime, antisocial behaviour and alcohol-related injuries which put a strain on public resources. The consultation runs for 10 weeks from 28 November 2012 until 6 February 2013.
The proposed measures include minimum unit pricing, a review of licensing conditions and, most significantly for marketers, a ban on multi-buy promotions. The multi-buy promotions ban would apply to shops and off-licences but not to pubs, clubs, bars or restaurants.
Types of promotion that would be covered by this ban include the following: buy one get one free; buy six and get 20 per cent off; 24 cans of lager costing less than 24 times the cost of a single can of lager in the shop; 3 for £10 where each bottle costs more than £3.33 when sold separately.
The Home Office says that the aim of the ban is to “stop promotions that encourage people to buy more than they otherwise would, making it cheaper (per item) to purchase more than one of a product than to purchase a single item”. It is intended that this will “[help] people to be aware of how much they drink, and . . . tackle irresponsible alcohol sales”.
The consultation is particularly aimed at members of the public who consume alcohol or live close to licensed premises, licensing authorities, and supermarkets and shops (amongst others). It poses questions such as whether the multi-buy promotions ban should come into effect at all and whether there are any further offers which should be included in the ban.
The Home Office, through its consultation, is looking to “assess support for such a ban and contribute to [its] understanding of the impact a ban on multi-buy promotions may have.”
Why this matters:
Similar multi-buy alcohol promotion restrictions were introduced in Scotland in October 2011. It was later reported that alcohol sales north of the border dropped significantly, with for example beer sales dropping by 8% in the first eight weeks.
Perhaps these developments encouraged the Coalition Government to introduce similar bans in the rest of the UK.
If the ban comes into force as proposed, marketers will have to be careful to keep up to date with the types of promotions which come within the ban in order to ensure they are avoided. Marketers must also ensure that their policies on alcohol sales promotions are compliant with the rules and are effective all the way down to the shop floor.
If, following the consultation, new law or regulation comes into force and is effective in achieving the Home Office’s aims, could a next step be to extend the ban on multi-buy promotions to pubs and clubs, or even to junk food?
For further information on the Home Office consultation see here.