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ALCOHOL Supermarket booze prices continue to climb despite duty freeze


Published on The Grocer


Prices of beer, wine and spirits are continuing to edge up in the mults, despite the government freezing duty until February 2025 in last month’s budget.

In total, 475 products in Sainsbury’s, Tesco, Morrisons, Asda and Waitrose saw an increase in pre-promotional price between 5 March and 16 April [Assosia].

This is equivalent to 6.2% of all BWS products – excluding low & no – across the retailers.

Some branded lines have seen price hikes of more than 40%. Whitley Neill Distiller’s Cut Gin 70cl, for instance, increased by 45% in Morrisons, from £20 to £29.

Bottles of Sailor Jerry Original Spiced Caribbean Rum in Asda climbed 34.4% from £16 to £21.50, while 750ml bottles of I Heart Prosecco in Morrisons rose 28.6% from £7 to £9.

Taylor’s 10 Year Old Tawny Port 70cl in Sainsbury’s increased 20%, from £25 to £30.

Bitburger Premium Pils four-packs in Waitrose, meanwhile, increased by 18.2% from £5.50 to £6.50.

Own-label products have also experienced marked price increases.

Morrisons The Best English Sparkling Brut Vintage 2010, for example, is up 41.2%, from £17 to £24.

Tesco Zesty White Wine Bag In Box and Tesco Fruity Red Box Wine (both three litres) have climbed 20%, from £13.75 to £16.50. Sainsbury’s Winemakers Selection Medium Dry Amontillado Sherry one-litre, meanwhile, has increased 13.5%, from £9.25 to £10.50.

A spokeswoman for Sainsbury’s said “prices can go up and down for a range of reasons” but that the retailer was “committed to offering our customers great value”.

They also pointed out several branded lines that saw increases were available on Nectar Card promotions throughout March.

Asda said it believed the data from Assosia had failed to pick up some products on promotions on 5 March.

“There’s a plethora of factors that go into the pricing of alcohol, not only alcohol duty, and although inflation is on the way down it has been a high inflationary year and inflation still remains,” a spokesman for the retailer added.

The Assosia data “failed to interpret numerous promotions” running on 5 March, a Morrisons spokeswoman insisted. “We remain committed to investing in price for our customers and are working hard to keep prices low.”

A spokeswoman for Waitrose said: “External factors have impacted costs across the industry and we’re doing everything we can to keep costs down for our customers.”

Tesco did not respond to requests for comment.

In last month’s budget, alcohol duty was maintained at current levels until February 2025 – after a three-year freeze ended last summer, causing a 10.1% rise in line with RPI inflation.

Changes to the way in which alcohol duty is calculated that mean stronger products face hire rates of tax have also been blamed for putting upward pressure on prices.

Miles Beale, CEO of the Wine & Spirit Trade Association, said it was “no surprise” that last year’s duty rises were continuing to “keep wine inflation above the headline rate”.

“Prices have gone up, sales have declined as has revenue to the Treasury – there’s not been a single winner,” he said.

He added that unless the government reversed a decision to end its temporary easement for new duty rules on wine there would be “further unavoidable price rises on the horizon”.


Published on The Grocer, 17th April 2024