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No Spirits In Supermarkets Welcomed By Alac

No Spirits In Supermarkets Welcomed By Alac

MAY 30 2008

The Alcohol Advisory Council (ALAC) has a welcomed a ruling by the Liquor Licensing Authority (LLA) refusing to grant an application by a Christchurch supermarket to sell spirits.

“We believe the application to sell spirits and spirit-based drinks is outside the intent of the law,” said ALAC Manager of Strategy and Research Andrew Hearn. “When supermarkets were given the right to sell alcohol, Parliament specifically restricted sales to wine and beer.”

ALAC was also concerned granting this type of off-licence could lead to other, similar premises opening, resulting in greater competition for the spirits market, and ultimately in increased alcohol-related harm to society, he said.

“Data obtained by ALAC showed that supermarkets sold beer and wine from 5 to 10 percent cheaper on average than traditional bottle stores.

“If supermarkets sell beer and wine cheaper on average than traditional bottle stores, it follows that, if given the opportunity to sell spirits and spirit-based drinks, supermarkets will heavily discount these as well.”

Dr Hearn said any shift in the market towards cheaper spirits is of concern. “Spirits are associated with a higher level of harm by virtue of their higher alcohol content.”

Dr Hearn said price was widely recognised as a key mechanism for reducing demand. Studies show increases in alcohol prices lead to a reduction in a host of undesirable outcomes. On the other hand, cost cutting and heavy discounting leads to increased consumption and with it increased harm.

Dr Hearn said this was a landmark decision.

Countdown supermarket was seeking a licence to set up a stand-alone liquor store attached to a Countdown supermarket and accessible to customers via the supermarket foyer.


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