SUPERMARKET beer is almost 188% more affordable today than it was 30 years ago, according to a study.
Wine and spirits sold in supermarkets and off-licences are 131% more affordable than in 1987 compared with 34% cheaper in pubs, bars, hotels and restaurants – or “on-trade” venues – figures from the Institute of Alcohol Studies (IAS) show.
Beer’s affordability has risen by 22% since 2012 while the affordability of wine and spirits has increased by 14% over the same period, the study found.
The IAS study is the first to compare affordability in the off-trade – supermarkets and off-licences – with on-trade prices, using data up to 2016.
Using an affordability index adjusting prices for inflation and income growth, the IAS report suggests that increases in affordability since 2012 could be attributed to alcohol tax cuts.
However, these appeared to have done little to support pubs, with beer affordability rising by just 5% in the on-trade and wine and spirits’ affordability up by 1%.
A recent survey of alcohol sold in supermarkets and off-licences by the Alcohol Health Alliance found four packs of beer on sale for as little as £1 (28p per unit) and 70cl bottles of vodka for less than £10 (38p per unit).
The Scottish Government has confirmed it will set a minimum price for alcohol of 50p a unit from May 1.
IAS chief executive Katherine Brown said: “Evidence shows that as alcohol becomes more affordable, communities experience greater levels of harm.
“In England cheap alcohol is creating a huge burden on our NHS, police and public services with more than 1.2 million hospital admissions and one million crimes related to alcohol each year.
“These findings strengthen the case for minimum unit pricing, which would target the cheapest alcohol drunk by those causing damage to themselves and others without affecting the cost of a pint down the pub.”