Alcohol sales in Scotland increase

This was picked up by BBC Scotland at the end of August and reported on the increase in alcohol sales in Scotland in 2014.


This is the impact that minimum unit pricing would have on supermarket multi-buy deals which they sell as loss leaders …..





Alcohol sales in Scotland increased last year, according to the latest figures.

An NHS report said the equivalent of 41 bottles of vodka or 114 bottles of wine per adult were sold in 2014.

The Scottish government said the figures reinforced the need for minimum unit pricing.

NHS Scotland warned that increased consumption would result in higher levels of alcohol-related illness and deaths.

The figures are in contrast to a trend for declining alcohol sales seen in recent years.

‘Irresponsible promotions’

They showed most of the alcohol – 72% – was bought through supermarkets or off-licences, rather than in pubs and clubs – the highest market share since recording began in 1994.

Scots continue to drink almost a fifth more than in England and Wales.

The statistics also highlighted that for the first time since 2007, the average price per unit in the off-trade has not increased and remains at 52p.

However, more than half of alcohol sold in off-trade costs below 50p per unit – the initial level proposed for minimum unit pricing.

Public Health Minister Maureen Watt said: “It’s concerning that the decline in consumption seen in recent years now appears to have stalled, especially after figures published last week showed alcohol-related deaths have increased for the second year running.

“That is why we remain absolutely committed to tackling Scotland’s difficult relationship with alcohol head on. In particular championing the introduction of minimum unit pricing.

“We recognise that no single measure will help change our relationship with alcohol.”

She added: “Our Alcohol Framework has more than 40 measures to reduce alcohol-related harm, such as the multi-buy discount ban, increased investment in alcohol treatment and care services, increased delivery of Alcohol Brief Interventions, legislation to ban irresponsible promotions, and introduction of a lower drink drive limit.

“The Framework has had a positive impact so far, but while an average of around 22 people a week still die because of alcohol, there can be no room for complacency.”

41 bottles of vodka per adult – so almost one a week per person is a shocker of a statistic.  No wonder the drinks industry is fighting MUP in Scotland.

And this is 72% supermarket/off-license sales – and I bet this was mostly supermarkets who sell some alcohol as loss leaders.

Here is a lovely infographic that supports those two shocking statistics:

MESAS alcohol sales and price update 2015

Sales increasing and alcohol related deaths increasing too – hmm no causal effect there then ……….  🙁

In light of this report:

The Scottish Government is considering resurrecting its “social responsibility” tax on alcohol retailers as more Scots abandon pubs in favour of off licences.

72% of alcohol sales ‘in off licences rather than pubs’

At least the Scottish govt is looking to do something about it – as is Liverpool it would seem 🙂

Let’s start talking about alcohol

Liverpool council and the local NHS want to hear your views on what they should be doing in the coming years on alcohol. 

The citywide conversation about alcohol is taking place now and people can share their views in an online forum, as well as read and respond to a draft strategy by clicking here.

The consultation is particularly interested in people’s views on: what impact alcohol has; what support exists for people and if it is working; alcohol sales being controlled appropriately and what needs to be done differently?

If you’re reading this and live in Liverpool (and even if you don’t) and would like to share your views now’s your chance!

Edited to add: 27/10/15 new research in the Public Health Journal too:

Alcohol purchasing by ill heavy drinkers; cheap alcohol is no single commodity

  • We surveyed drinking behaviour in 639 patients with alcohol-related harm.
  • Consumption was predominantly from off-sale settings (median = 184.8 UK units/week).
  • Popular drinks were cheap varieties of white cider and vodka.
  • Price and location of point of sale were key drivers of consumption.
  • 85% of units cost less that the proposed minimum unit price for alcohol.


Median consumption was 184.8 (IQR = 162.2) UK units/week paying a mean of 39.7 pence per alcohol unit (£0.397). Off-sales accounted for 95% of purchases with 85% of those <50 pence (£0.5 UK) per alcohol unit. Corresponding figures for the Scottish population are 69% and 60%. The most popular low-priced drinks were white cider, beer and vodka with the most common off-sales outlet being the corner shop, despite supermarkets offering cheaper options. Consumption levels of the cheapest drink (white cider) were similar across all quintiles apart from the least deprived.

Edited to add 28th May 2016:

Scottish alcohol sales increase to equivalent of 41 bottles of vodka per adult

SNP ministers have attempted to bolster their fragile legal case for introducing alcohol minimum pricing by pointing to new figures showing Scottish sales increased last year to the equivalent of 41 bottles of vodka per adult.| The Telegraph

Exploring the rise and fall of alcohol-related mortality in Scotland: Affordability

The rise and fall of alcohol-related mortality in Scotland is partly due to changes in affordability, according to recent reports | Science Daily, UK

6 thoughts on “Alcohol sales in Scotland increase

  1. 41 bottles of vodka a year *faints*

    And if that’s an average and the principle that 20% of the population are consuming 80% of the alcohol applies, then I calculate that the top 20% are in fact consuming almost FOUR bottles of vodka a week As you say no wonder MUP being fought tooth and nail! Xx

    1. Your calculation is spot on Prim because at 35 units per bottle 4 bottles = 140 units so pretty average for your regular heavy drinker/alcoholic. Have a fabulous holiday!! 🙂 xx

  2. Hi Lucy!
    What is an “off – license”?
    All of our stores have to have a license, so I am unsure.
    In any case, Prim’s figures were pretty scary!
    I drank a lot, but that is REALLY a lot of vodka!

    1. Hey Wendy! An off-licence is what you would call a liquor store in the US 🙂 xx

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