Alcohol ‘cheaper in shops than nine years ago’

Supermarkets are selling alcohol at lower prices than nine years ago, it’s been claimed.


A comparison of special offers shows you could buy drink more cheaply last weekend than during the St Patrick’s festivities in 2005, the Vintners Federation of Ireland has said.

It said a 24-pack of Guinness was advertised at a “cost price” of €39.97 in Tesco in 2005 – but you could buy an eight-can pack for €11 in recent days, meaning you’d pay €33 this March for the same quantity. That works out at €1.38 for a 500ml can last weekend, compared to €1.67 nine years ago – a price drop of 17pc.

And the reductions are in spite of general inflation of 15pc and VAT and excise hikes for alcohol since that time, and even though the retailers in 2005 said they were selling the drink at “cost price”.

And while 20 bottles of Miller would have set you back €21.99 at SuperValu in 2005, you could buy 20 slightly smaller bottles for just €15 in recent days.

That means that the 300cl bottles cost just 75c each last weekend compared with €1.10 for a 330cl bottle nine years ago. Even adjusting for the slightly smaller current bottle size, that represents a 23pc fall.

The VFI said that while 70cl bottles of Smirnoff vodka were promoted at the cost price of €20.80 in 2005, last weekend supermarket ads offered the equivalent amount for €18.20.


Professor Joe Barry of Trinity College Department of Public Health said that the fact that alcohol was on sale for less than its 2005 price highlighted the need for legislation to stop it being sold at cut-price rates.

“Alcohol is not like bread or clothes, where it’s a case of the cheaper the better, it’s a psychoactive substance that can be very harmful,” he said.

“Cheap alcohol is attractive to teenagers and people who are alcohol-dependent, so these findings reiterate the need for minimum pricing legislation.”

Tesco said the prices of all products fluctuated over time and its St Patrick’s weekend offerings were market-leading and fully compliant with the Responsible Retailers of Alcohol in Ireland (RRAI) code.

SuperValu said it had a strict code on the sale of alcohol and complied fully with the RRAI code.

It stated that the reason for the price differential reflected the length of time between surveys and abolition of the Grocery Order in 2006.

The grocery order was a ban on below-cost selling of products, including groceries.