Guide

Minimum unit pricing for alcohol in Scotland

Last updated: 26 April 2018

Discounts and offers

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 aren't 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:

Multipack products

Businesses can still sell multipacks and other bulk items of alcohol, but to make sure you don't sell a multipack for less than the minimum unit price, you should read page 13 of the Scottish Government guidance.

Inclusive drinks

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.

Complimentary drinks

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 doesn't apply for complimentary drinks.

Discount coupons

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 – doesn't 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 can't use a discount coupon or a threshold spend voucher because that would make it cheaper than the minimum price of £6.

Staff discounts

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 – doesn't 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 isn't 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 isn't being sold for less than the minimum unit price.

If you have some older stock where the price on the packaging is lower than the minimum unit price, you have to either:

  • change the price and make sure the price on the packaging is completely removed or covered, or
  • stop selling the product altogether

If you decide to change the price, you must make sure the new price is clear and the customer isn't misled. As well as covering or removing the price on the packaging, make sure the shelf price and till price are changed too.

Online and telephone sales

If you buy alcohol online or through telephone 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 won't apply.

However, if you buy alcohol online and the alcohol is sent from Scotland, minimum unit pricing will apply.

Delivery charges are separate and can't 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 doesn't count as £12.50 – it counts as £10 and is under the minimum price.

Damaged stock

You can still sell damaged stock at a reduced price, as long as the reduced price isn't 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 can't sell damaged stock for anything less than £6.

Minimum pricing is part of your premises licence and states that alcohol can't be sold below its minimum price, no matter what condition it's in.

Disclaimer

While these examples are common, they don't cover every situation. A guidance document will be made available on this page soon – it will give more detailed examples.

These examples don't 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 aren't 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.

Minimum unit pricing for alcohol in Scotland
Discounts and offers