In its latest consultation on licensing regulations, the Executive suggests cordoning off beer, wines and spirits sections in retail stores, removing them from the food aisles or making them inaccessible by, for example, putting them behind a counter ('Scottish retailers blast booze cordoning plan', The Grocer, 14 October, p14).
But these remedies are not only impractical, especially for small stores, they are also regressive and inappropriate. Presumably, the intent of the suggestion is to discourage heavy drinkers by making accessibility to alcohol more difficult. Does the Scottish Executive honestly believe that heavy drinkers will be put off by these measures? All that will happen is that genuine moderate alcohol consumers will be inconvenienced, unable to browse easily and many will resist the opportunity to buy. That will do absolutely nothing to improve the health and antisocial issues caused by alcohol misuse and will result in a sales downturn for retailers.
Moreover, the Scottish Executive has proposed certain exemptions to the display restrictions, allowing alcohol to be displayed near sweets, crisps, newspapers, bread and nuts. The last of these categories sums up the anomalous and illogical nature of the Scottish Executive's proposals.
There needs to be a more targeted approach, aimed at the people who abuse and are abused by alcohol.
The Scottish Grocers Federation is working with retailers and the police to tackle the supply of alcohol to young people. It is time for the government to address the demand.