The survey of 1,000 UK consumers, conducted by retail consultancy Harris International Marketing, found that 44% said supermarkets were partly to blame for a rise in excessive drinking, including 15% who strongly agreed, against 36% who blamed the on-trade. But an even higher proportion – 49% – said local stores and off-licences should accept some responsibility, including 17% who strongly agreed.
“We acknowledge that there is a problem with perception due to the constant media debate about alcohol-related problems,” said Association of Convenience Stores public affairs director Shane Brennan. “However, there is no part of the industry that is solely to blame.”
Brennan said the link between price and alcohol problems remained unclear, adding: “There has been lots of posturing and debate in the media, but that has not yet been matched with a proper conversation with government.”
And he emphasised the role to be played by initiatives, such as the national ‘Challenge 21’ campaign, in improving public perceptions of the drinks industry.
However, a fifth of respondents said they thought the problems caused by binge drinking had been exaggerated by news reports in the media.
Although 46% of respondents opposed raising prices to deter binge drinkers, more than a third (35%) supported such a measure, including 17% who were strongly in favour.
Meanwhile, brewing giant SAB Miller has launched a website, TalkingAlcohol.com, providing information on issues such as responsible drinking, the impact of alcohol on the body and how beer is made.
“We hope to encourage straightforward conversations about the health and social considerations of drinking alcohol,” said SAB Miller head of policy Kristin Wolfe.