If you're selling alcohol and you want to offer a discount, you must still follow minimum unit pricing.
Although you're still allowed to offer discounts on alcohol, your licence already prohibits irresponsible drinking promotions.
The general rule is that any vouchers or discounts that are clearly linked to a reward scheme or a refund (like reward card points or gift vouchers) are classed as cash equivalents and can be used as payment for alcohol.
Vouchers and discounts that are not clearly linked to a reward scheme or refund (like in-store sales) can still be used, but not if they would take the price paid for alcohol below the minimum unit price.
Here are some examples of how minimum unit pricing works with discounts and sales:
Businesses can still sell multipacks and other bulk items of alcohol. But to make sure you do not sell a multipack for less than the minimum unit price, you should read page 13 of the minimum alcohol pricing guidance.
Businesses can still have promotions where alcohol is included as part of a package or meal deal. This could include:
- a bottle of beer being packaged and sold with a branded glass
- offering a free bottle of champagne with a hotel room
- a bottle of wine being sold with food as part of a meal deal
The business needs to make sure that the total price of the promotion costs more than the minimum price of the alcohol.
For example, if the minimum price of a 12.5% ABV bottle of wine is £4.69, any meal deal that comes with a bottle of wine included must cost at least £4.69.
You may want to give a complimentary drink to a customer. For example, as compensation because their food was served late.
You're allowed to do this. The minimum unit price does not apply for complimentary drinks.
Businesses can still offer discount coupons for specific alcoholic drinks. They can also still offer 'threshold spend' vouchers (like "save £2 when you spend £15").
However, they have to make sure that the final price – after these discounts are applied – does not fall below the minimum price.
For example, if the minimum price for a 2 litre bottle of 6% ABV cider is £6.00 and the shop sells it for that price, you cannot use a discount coupon or a threshold spend voucher. That would make it cheaper than the minimum price of £6.
Businesses can still offer staff discounts when selling alcohol.
However, they have to make sure that the final price – after the staff discount is applied – does not fall below the minimum price.
Reward cards and gift vouchers
You can still buy alcohol using:
- points on a reward card
- a voucher that has been issued to you for your loyalty
For example, if a shop is selling a 2 litre bottle of 6% ABV cider for the minimum price of £6.00 and you have £4.00 of reward points on your loyalty card, you can use your points towards the price because your points act like cash (even though this takes it below the minimum price).
If you get a voucher as part of loyalty scheme (like a £5 off voucher), this also has a cash value and so you can use it to pay for alcohol too.
This is different from a voucher that is not linked to a reward card or loyalty scheme, where there's no cash value.
Price-marked products and flash packs
If you're selling products that come with the price already marked on the packaging, you must still make sure it is not being sold for less than the minimum unit price.
Online and phone sales
If you buy alcohol online or through phone sales, minimum unit pricing will apply if the sale is sent from Scotland.
For example, if you buy alcohol online in Scotland and the alcohol is sent from England, the minimum unit pricing will not apply.
However, if you buy alcohol online and the alcohol is sent from Scotland, minimum unit pricing will apply.
Delivery charges are separate and cannot be included as part of the price. For example, if the minimum price for two 2-litre bottles of 6% ABV cider is £12 and the total cost is £10 plus £2.50 for delivery, this does not count as £12.50 – it counts as £10 and is under the minimum price.
You can still sell damaged stock at a reduced price, as long as the reduced price is not below the minimum price.
For example, if the minimum price for a 2-litre bottle of 6% ABV cider is £6 and you usually sell it for £8, you cannot sell damaged stock for anything less than £6.
Minimum pricing is part of your premises licence and states that alcohol cannot be sold below its minimum price, no matter what condition it's in.
While these examples are common, they do not cover every situation. You can check the guidance document for more information.
These examples do not legally bind Licensing Boards or the courts. The courts will always decide whether the legislation has been interpreted correctly.
If there's a situation where you are not sure whether minimum unit pricing has been followed, the best option is to take the safest action. You may want to take legal advice to make sure.
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