Charity slams retailers as Christmas discounting continues

Alcohol Concern slammed retailers for selling Champagne and popular drinks brands at “pocket-money prices” as Christmas price wars raged during Alcohol Awareness Week.

Asda was selling Champagne at £6 a bottle this week and the charity warned supermarkets must take their share of the blame for Britain’s “binge-drinking epidemic”.

Eric Appleby, chief executive at Alcohol Concern, told OLN: “Alcohol misuse is a serious problem and when alcohol can be bought at pocket-money prices we’re clearly getting something wrong.

“If we’re to tackle this issue, which we must, it’s vital alcohol retailers act responsibly. We urgently need to introduce a 50p minimum unit price to protect those most at risk – young people and heavy drinkers “

Asda’s Dubois Caron Champagne was originally priced at £24.21 and reduced to £10, but it was sold at £6 to make room for hundreds of bottles of Pierre Darcys Champagne, which are being sold at £10. Asda is also a selling a 70cl bottle of Baileys at £8 and 20 cans of Foster’s (44cl) at £11.

But the chain hit back, saying it was perfectly entitled to offer its customers competitive prices.

Paul Kelly, external affairs and corporate responsibility director, said: “We take our role as a responsible alcohol retailer seriously, which is why we are the only supermarket, to date, to go further than any other to demonstrate our commitment to the Responsibility Deal.

“This has seen us removing all alcohol from each of our store foyers, as well as pledging £1 million to tackle alcohol misuse through our partnership with Addaction.

“Our other commitment is to our 18 million shoppers and making sure we help them live better for less, which is why we always offer the best value in the run-up to Christmas with a number of market-leading deals.”

Nielsen analyst Helen Stares warned the deepest discounts are yet to come. She said: “It’s been a tough year and the last few weeks of the year are really important to the retailers as shoppers look for the best deals.”

She said too much should not be read into the £6 Champagne deal as it was about clearing excess stock, but added the other deals seemed low.

Meanwhile Sainsbury’s sold a bottle of Jacob’s Creek Shiraz half-price at £3.74, blowing a hole in Pernod Ricard UK’s message to retailers to add value to the wine category by pushing premium wines at £6-£8 during the festive period.

Morrisons was selling 10x44cl cans of Coors Light for £6, while Costcutter has 20x44cl cans of Strongbow or Carling at £12.

Tesco sold its 1-litre Finest Irish Cream half-price at £7.50. Stares said: “Cream liqueurs are always popular at this time of year. As to whether it will be a key battleground, I don’t feel confident either way. There’s nothing to say there won’t be a great deal on blended whisky elsewhere next week.

“While there are some non-perishable items which can be purchased now, some things have to be left until the last minute, so there is all to play for.”

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