Scottish off-sales down almost 4 per cent since MUP

The volume of off-trade alcohol sales in Scotland dropped by 3.6 per cent in the year following the introduction of minimum unit pricing (MUP), according to figures released by NHS Health Scotland. 
Bottles of alcohol
The average price of off-trade alcohol in Scotland rose from 55p to 60p per unit with MUP.

The study, which is the first analysis of sales over a full year since MUP came into force in May 2018, shows that the volume of pure alcohol sold per adult fell to 7.1 litres compared to 7.4 litres in the 12 months before implementation. The volume sold in England and Wales increased from 6.3 to 6.5 litres over the same period, it adds. 

The average price of off-trade alcohol in Scotland rose from 55 to 60p per unit with MUP. Sales of cider fell the most, at almost 19 per cent, while sales of spirits fell by just under 4 per cent and sales of beer remained largely unchanged with a fall of just over 1 per cent. Sales trends in the North East and North West of England, meanwhile, were found to be largely the same as in the rest of England and Wales, meaning it was unlikely that large numbers of people were crossing the border to buy cheaper alcohol, the study states. 

‘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,’ said public health intelligence advisor at NHS Health Scotland, Lucie Giles. ‘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.’

Chief Executive of Alcohol Focus Scotland, Alison Douglas
Chief Executive of Alcohol Focus Scotland, Alison Douglas

‘It’s encouraging to see that, as expected, consumers appear to be buying less cheap, high-strength cider,’ added chief executive of Alcohol Focus Scotland, Alison Douglas. ‘Other research studies suggest that consumers are switching to smaller size packs and lower strength products. Even a small reduction in the amount of alcohol consumed in Scotland will mean fewer lives damaged by or lost to drink.  

Particularly significant is the contrast to England and Wales, who don’t have MUP, and where sales of alcohol have increased in the same time period.’

Evaluating the impact of minimum unit pricing (MUP) on sales-based consumption in Scotland: a descriptive analysis of one year post-MUP off-trade alcohol sales data at

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