The UK’s big four supermarkets have dismissed accusations regarding their role in town centre binge drinking.
Questions were raised regarding price and ‘irresponsible’ drinks promotions at a meeting with the All-Party Parliamentary Beer Group yesterday at the Houses of Parliament.
Representatives of Britain’s four main supermarket chains, Tesco, ASDA, Sainsbury’s and Morrisons, refused to be drawn on whether they used alcohol as a loss leader (the sale of alcohol below cost to drive footfall in stores).
John Grogan, MP for Selby and chair of the All Party Parliamentary Beer Group commented, “The basic feeling in parliament is that selling alcohol is a bit different from selling beans and they [the supermarkets] really need to realise this.”
“The last thing they wanted to talk about was price and promotions of alcohol,” he added.
The representatives’ also refuted claims they are fuelling binge drinking with their alcohol promotions and cheap prices.
Nick Grant of Sainsbury’s told the assembled panel, “You are talking about families going round supermarkets on a Saturday afternoon and buying alcohol as part of their weekly shop . Do you seriously think they go home and drink it all at once?”
But MR Grogan hit back claiming it is likely that the majority of low-priced alcohol would contribute towards binge drinking, but admitted an academic study would be needed to prove a link.
The Asda representative said at the meeting, “Price is in our DNA and we are not going to increase prices to make our customers pay more. Price is something that is non-negotiable for us.”
“I would not accept that supermarkets are responsible for drinking in towns and centres. It’s a very complex thing and it’s easy for some publicans to blame the supermarkets.”