The supermarkets have been accused of irresponsible alcohol sales practices over the August bank holiday weekend. Both Sainsbury’s and Asda offered three-for-£20 deals on crates of certain beers and ciders.

Sainsbury’s customers could also opt for 60 284ml bottles of Stella Artois lager for just £20 – equivalent to 33p a bottle or 66p a pint. Similar deals were available on other drinks including Bulmers, Beck’s and Kronenbourg. 

The Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers chief executive Nick Bish described the deals as “frighteningly cheap” and said the price ratio between a bottle of beer at a supermarket and in a pub was now nearly 1:10 and called for government action to stop below-cost selling.

However the supermarkets were quick to deny they were acting irresponsibly.

“The vast majority of our customers who buy alcohol do so as part of their regular and large grocery shop,” said a Sainsbury’s spokeswoman. “Our research shows that they consume it over a period of weeks and months or they buy it for a special occasion such as a party or celebration.”

A Morrisons spokeswoman said the retailer took its responsibilities very seriously and had trained its staff to ask anyone who looked under 25 for ID.