Has supermarket booze become cheaper after the smoking ban?

In a word no. While pubs are closing in their thousands, many blame it on cheap supermarket booze. Here is some of my research.

“The other major reason cited is cheap supermarket drink. My research has suggested that supermarket drink pre ban was just as cheap then as it is now. The first quote is from the Business Section of The Guardian from July 2004. “But supermarkets sold alcohol at a fraction of the price it was on sale for in pubs, he said. Some were selling brand name cider for 51p a can and export strength lager for 64p during the Euro 2004 football championships.”

In a letter dated 28th March 2007 Ian R Loe the Research Manager of CAMRA to the Competition Commission states:

“Research by CAMRA in the period just before Christmas, sound that supermarkets were selling Fosters and Carling for the equivalent of 54p a pint…a pint of beer in a pub 148p to 213p from 1995 to 2005…the cost of supermarket lager ..the average price is down from 70.8p to 67.4p..” Let me remind you this is 4 months before the smoking ban.

The most obvious evidence of this is from This Is Money where on the 21st September 2006 the prices in Tesco were listed for Fosters lager, Red Smirnoff Red Label Vodka and Jack Daniels. The 2010 prices were taken on the 12th August from tesco.com and tescom.com for 2011 on the 2nd July.

Beer and spirits                                     2006                        2010                         2011

4x 500 ml Fosters                                  £3.53                      £3.42*                     £3.97 *

Red Smirnoff Vodka 70cl                      £9.79                       £11.00                    £14.29

Jack Daniels 70cl                                  £18.18                       £20.49                  £21.79

Wine                                                     2004                            2010                    2011

Wolf Blass Yellow Label                        £5.72                        £6.74**             £7.99

Lindemans Bin 65 Chardonnay               £5.69                    £5.24***           £7.99

Jacobs Creek Shiraz Cabernet 75cl        £4.73 per bottle     £5.24****        £7.99

* (Adjusted from 440ml)

** (special offer reduced from £8.99)

*** (special offer reduced from £6.99)

**** (special offer reduced from £6.99)

I hope this ends the urban myth that supermarket booze all of a sudden became cheap after the smoking ban.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2004/jul/07/supermarkets.drugsandalcohol

http://www.competition-commission.org.uk/inquiries/ref2006/grocery/pdf/responses_emerging_thinking_third_party_no_15.pdf

http://www.thisismoney.co.uk/news/article.html?in_article_id=412881&in_page_id=2

http://www.glug.com.au/index_general.php?sec=general_wine&art=04004

http://www.tesco.com/groceries/product/search/default.aspx?searchBox=red%20wine (Wolf)

http://www.tesco.com/groceries/product/search/default.aspx?searchBox=Lindemans%20Bin%2065%20Chardonnay

http://www.tesco.com/groceries/Product/Details/?id=255241560

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7 Responses to Has supermarket booze become cheaper after the smoking ban?

  1. TheBigYin says:

    Thirty odd years ago, when I started drinking in pubs, you never bought canned beer to drink in that establishment, canned beer sold by pubs was only bought as a ‘carry out’ when time was called and, as you noted above, was much dearer than the shop bought cans which you could buy much cheaper. I never understood the argument about supermarket beer beeing the death knell of the British pub.
    I am drinking supermarket beer now but would rather be at a pub and keep a couple of cans from the supermarket at home for a fitting end to the day. But I won’t go to the pub, even in the fine weather were having here because of the smoking ban.

  2. Terr says:

    Well worth keeping that Guardian 2004 article to quote to the idiots that state that pubs are closing due to cheap supermarket drink.
    If that were the case then the pub closures would have started well before the smoking ban…..BUT…they didn’t start closing in significant numbers until after the ban.

    • Charles says:

      Alcohol has been cheaper in supermarkets for many years. People go to pubs and clubs to socialise and not to buy cheap drinks.
      After the smoking ban most smokers stayed at home where they could still enjoy a smoke with their drink.

  3. Mark says:

    There always was cheap alcohol available from the supermarkets and this has not really changed.
    I certainly would prefer to be out socialising in a pub but since the ban, I object to standing around in the cold outside so I drink at home now. Price does not come into it,
    The price of pub drinks has probably increased though in part, because of the smoking ban resulting in pubs having fewer customers.

  4. Rose says:

    As a someone who very rarely drinks, I have say that it seems rather insulting to suggest that people who do drink would give up all the social aspects of a pleasant evening in the pub just to save a few pennies.

    Such a demeaning law on places of hospitality was surely designed to drive customers away.
    It’s just that they haven’t been replaced.

    Markers of the denormalisation of smoking and the tobacco industry
    “However, internationally, the term is also used to encompass efforts challenging notions that smoking ought to be regarded as routine or normal, particularly in public settings.
    Hammond et al state that “social denormalisation” strategies seek “to change the broad social norms around using tobacco—to push tobacco use out of the charmed circle of normal, desirable practice to being an abnormal practice”.
    http://tobaccocontrol.bmj.com/content/17/1/25.full

    But you can’t attempt to “de-normalise” something if it isn’t perfectly normal to start with.

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