Independent retailers are being warned to prepare for the biggest ever supermarket price war on booze. This year's Christmas campaign kicked off when Asda unveiled aggressive £15m plans for the festive season. And one of its star offers is a case of Stella for £13.48. Safeway is promising a strong promotional programme on beers, wines and spirits. Its latest deal is a case of Amstel for £11.99. Sainsbury, selling Beck's at £12.99 a case, said: "We have a very strong package of offers already in store with many more over the next two weeks. The total offering amounts to over £20m in cuts, with many big lines below last year's prices." The fact the Christmas price war has started so early has led some wholesalers to predict a meltdown this year. Mike McGee, md of the Landmark buying group, said: "We think it's going to be an absolutely awful Christmas and what we have seen so far is just the tip of the iceberg." He said the only way independents could compete was by ignoring the brands being targeted by the multiples. "If Carling is being knocked out at a ridiculous price then try something else. There are plenty of other brands not featured by the multiples." He said retailers should ignore 12 and 24-packs as this would simply show how expensive they were. Nigel Creswall, Today's group licensed trading director, said retailers must stick with the bestsellers. But he added: "Our advice for retailers is not to major on the same products as the multiples ­ generally 24 packs." Booker's marketing director Steven Sharp said: "On any one day, we may well be beaten on price by someone, somewhere on something but overall Booker will continue to offer the very best value to independents." Spar said its promotional package was designed to ensure retailers did not compete head to head with the multiples on cases. A key part of its activity is exclusive packs that will give Spar retailers a unique selling point. - A-B under attack, p70 {{NEWS }}