The Federation of Wholesale Distributors is calling for the Government to ban the below-cost selling of alcohol in the UK off trade market.
Responding to a draft mandatory code of practice for the alcohol industry drawn up by the Home Office as part of the Police and Crime Bill, the FWD said it fully endorsed the Government’s intention to curb binge drinking and alcohol-related disorder and supported the promotion of sensible drinking habits but below-cost selling encourages irresponsible drinking.
“The blatant selling of alcohol below the price that manufacturers charge their trade customers, which is now typical of the multiple trade, should be seen as irresponsible practice that leads to excessive drinking by many consumers,” said FWD director general John Murphy.
“We are calling for the practice of loss-leading promotions in alcoholic drinks to be stopped as part of the code of practice. “Aggressive low-cost sales of alcohol by major retailers tended in the past to be focused on key trading times such as Christmas.
“However, we have seen this type of activity proliferating during normal trading periods.”
Murphy said the FWD generally supported the right of traders to sell at whatever price they choose, but in the case of alcohol there was a compelling case for below cost selling to be banned.
The Police and Crime Bill is currently going through Parliament and the proposed code will become part of the Licensing Act.
The maximum penalty for licensees not complying with the finalised code will be six months in prison and a £20,000 fine.