SHOPKEEPERS in some of Scotland’s most deprived neighbourhoods say the introduction of minimum unit pricing for alcohol is having an impact on what their customers are buying.
In Shettleston, Glasgow, Usman Munir, the owner of Ward’s Off-Sales, says he has noticed some people are buying less – particularly when it comes to cider, which was formerly one of the cheapest drinks.
He said: “One cider we were selling for £3.50, but it is now £11.25 because of the minimum price – so it has tripled in price.
“People have stopped buying it so much, they buy less or they switch to something else, which depends – some switch to whisky, some to vodka.”
He said that businesses are benefiting by making more money, but the customers are suffering.
But he added: “In a way I do think minimum pricing is a good thing. People don’t drink what they used to and they cut down which is good for their health.
“Although some people are still buying the same but they have to pay more – so it means they will need to cut down somewhere else in their budgets.
“People are annoyed about it. They don’t like the idea.”
That’s a view echoed by another shopkeeper in Shettleston Road, who rolls her eyes when minimum price is mentioned.
She said: “All customers do is moan about it.
“It has affected the sales of ciders and things like that, which have gone up in price.”
In Possilpark, there are signs of the worst of Scotland’s drinking problems. A clearly intoxicated man clutching a can of cider, who looks to be in his twenties, staggers in the street, before proceeding to vomit on the pavement.
It’s just 2pm in the afternoon, but his condition doesn’t draw much attention from passers-by.
An off-licence in Saracen Street has several signs in the window to warn customers about the minimum price rise.
One man who comes out with a can in his hand said: “I drink lager so it’s not really affected me.
“But it’s the people who drink Frosty Jack’s (white cider) – they are the ones who have got it the worst.”
These are the key battlegrounds for minimum pricing, with studies showing the health of society’s poorest is harder hit by heavy drinking than heavy drinkers in affluent areas.