Ban on cheap supermarket booze rejected

The Competition Commission has rejected calls for it to stop supermarkets from selling cheap alcohol. The calls followed complaints that supermarkets such as Tesco and Asda are putting smaller shops out of busines

 The Competition Commission has rejected calls for it to stop supermarkets from selling cheap alcohol. The calls followed complaints that supermarkets such as Tesco and Asda are putting smaller shops out of business.

The move follows last week’s announcement that cut prices and free alcohol offers in Scotland are to be made illegal by 2009, in a bid to tackle the nation’s excessive drinking culture.

The Commission was asked to looking into supermarket pricing strategies by off-licences, pubs and corner shops but an enquiry panel of competition experts believes forcing supermarket to accept a minimum price will be unpopular with consumers.

The 16-month inquiry into the groceries market, led by Competition Commission chairman Peter Freeman, will come as a setback for the Association of Convenience Stores which represents 33,000 shops in England and Wales. This includes chains such as Spar, Costcutter and Londis.

Meanwhile, a review is under way by the Department of Health and the Home Office into how discounting and other forms of promotion drive the overall consumption of alcohol and binge drinking in particular.

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