Plans by the Scottish government for a levy on supermarkets and c-stores selling alcohol have been branded "disproportionate" and "unfair" by trade organisations.
Scottish Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill is proposing introducing a "polluter pays" levy on all off sales in a bid to tackle Scotland's binge-drinking culture. With 80% of all alcohol sales in Scotland being off-trade, the Scottish government believes the levy is a way of targeting the country's biggest source of cheap booze.
However, John Drummond, chief executive of the Scottish Grocers' Federation, said: "This is not the correct way to tackle Scotland's drinking problems. We are told the proposal is likely to introduce a standard levy or charge in an area that would disproportionately impact upon smaller retailers over supermarkets. We believe the biggest supermarket would pay, at most, only three times more than the smallest convenience store, yet turnover might be as much as fifty times greater so this would have a disproportionate impact."
Mr Drummond added: "We will be opposing this proposal as there is no proof that it will have any impact on anti-social behaviour and it is unfair to place the cost of such social issues at the door of every retailer."
Fiona Moriarty, director of the Scottish Retail Consortium, said: "The use of a 'polluter pays' policy is a very crude mechanism for targeting alcohol abuse and hits the individuals who are abusing alcohol along with the wider public who have no issues with alcohol.
"Policies which have been tried in other parts of the world, Scandinavia for example, show that pricing alone does not work and you need a range of interventions to help solve this problem."
However, a spokeswoman for the Justice Secretary said the proposal was similar to a proposed levy on pubs and clubs, and was due to be brought forward for consultation by the Scottish Government in April.