Don’t demonise home-drinking, Lords told

Mark Willingham Uncategorized

Don’t demonise home-drinking, Lords told

Source: the drinks business

by Arabella Mileham

24th November, 2016

Demonising “home-drinking” is simplistic and fails to reflect the way shopper habits have changed, representatives from three retailers told the House of Lords, as they confirmed there was no evidence to suggest ‘pre-loading’ at the weekends.

Giving evidence to the Lords Licensing Committee on Tuesday, representatives from Sainsbury’s, Waitrose and Ocado said they had not seen evidence of weekend pre-loading – people buying alcohol in the off-trade before going out to clubs and pubs – across its sales data.

James Brodhurst-Brown, manager of regulatory affairs and trading law at Waitrose said there was “no evidence” to suggest sales of drinks changed at the weekend, noting that overall sales volumes at Waitrose were larger at the weekend because there were more people shopping.

His view was supported by Nick Head, Sainsbury’s head of legal services, and Ocado’s customer operations director Mark Bentley.

Heard noted that the ‘vast majority” of Sainsbury’s sales were food, but added that the retailer had worked with police in isolated examples of outlets near pubs and clubs where there was evidence of people buying particular products and on occasion had removed products from shelves.

However he said it was difficult to pull out data that would support the idea of weekend pre-loading.

But Heard also argued against the use of the word “home-drinking” as a pejorative term, argued the term brought to mind a set of “implied images” that was at odds with the way people drink in the home. He pointed out it also covered home-entertaining such as dinner parties where wine was served and family barbecues.

“We need to be wary of over-loaded terms,” he said, adding that the world had changed since 2003, with more people spending time at home and investing in their homes as a result, having adopted different behaviour after the downturn of the economy in 2008.

“I would counsel against a snap-shot that what happens at home is bad. What people are doing is flexible thing, it will change over time,” he said, adding that there were some signs the economy was picking up and people were going out again.

“There is the possibility of romanticising the on-trade, but not all pubs are on a village green with a responsible adult taking care of the young guns. it isn’t like that. To say “home-drinking” in a pejorative way is too simplistic.”

Brodhust-Brown agreed the world of retailing had changed drastically in the thirteen years since the legislation was introduced, and pointed to the rise in convenience and the wane of the large weekly out-of-town shop. Sales in alcohol in the off-trade was not purely due to a difference in price, he added.

The three supermarket representatives said there were broadly happy with the current system, denying suggestion that the off-trade needs separate licensing rules to the on-trade because alcohol in the off-trade is cheaper than in the on-trade. However they argued inconsistencies in the way the law is applied needed to be addressed, and called on more to do done to enforce existing licensing regimes and to bring the ‘antiquated” reliance on paper and formal notices up to date.

In July, the House of Lords Licensing Act 2003 Committee published its intention to investigate the effectiveness of the Licensing Act. It has already taken evidence from the police and representatives of the on-trade and a report on its findings is due in early 2017.