Guide

Minimum unit pricing for alcohol in Scotland

Last updated: 31 May 2018

Information for retailers

You'll need to follow the new minimum unit price on alcohol if you sell alcohol and hold either a premises licence or an occasional licence.

You have to make sure that none of the alcohol you sell from 1 May 2018 costs less than 50p per unit.

There will be no 'period of grace' allowed for carrying out minimum unit pricing – you must be selling alcohol at the right price on 1 May 2018 with no exceptions.

Responsibility

The people responsible for making sure the minimum unit price is followed are:

  • the premises licence holder
  • premises managers
  • staff working on the licensed premises

If the minimum unit price isn't followed this could lead to a review of the premises, and its licence could be taken away.

How to calculate the minimum unit price of a product

Every drink will have a minimum price based on the amount of pure alcohol it contains.

If you're selling alcohol and you don't know the new minimum price of a product, you can calculate it as:

The price per unit (£0.50) x the strength of alcohol (ABV) x the volume in litres

Here are some examples:

  • a 700ml bottle of spirits at 37.5% ABV must cost at least £13.13 (£0.50 x 37.5 x 0.7)
  • a 500ml super strength can of beer at 9% ABV must cost at least £2.25 (£0.50 x 9 x 0.5)
  • a 2 litre bottle of strong cider at 6% ABV must cost at least £6.00 (£0.50 x 6 x 2)

You can use this calculator to find out the minimum pricing of a product.

Most alcohol products show the number of units on the label. Don't use this when calculating the minimum price – it's been rounded, which means you might end up with a price lower than the minimum. Use the formula above instead to make sure you get an accurate price.

Rounding up

If you do a calculation and the result isn't a whole number of pennies, you must round it up to the nearest whole number. If you round it down, the price will be lower than the minimum.

For example, a standard 750ml bottle of wine with an ABV of 12.5% would have a minimum unit price of £4.68 ¾ (£0.50 x 12.5 x 0.75). In this case, you must charge at least £4.69.

Enforcement

Minimum unit pricing will be enforced by Licensing Standards Officers (LSOs), who are employed by local councils.

LSOs can be contacted through your local council. They can explain what minimum unit pricing will mean for your business and give guidance.

You'll probably be contacted by your local LSO before or shortly after the minimum unit pricing rule begins. This might be an inspection visit. The LSO will expect to see clear pricing for every alcoholic product being sold, and these prices should be at or above the minimum unit price.

If an LSO finds you're selling a product for less than the minimum unit price, they have the power to issue you or the licence holder with a notice.

This will usually tell you to either change the price of a certain product or stop selling it. If you ignore this notice, the LSO can ask the Licensing Board to review your licence.

Business checklist

To make sure alcohol products aren't being sold at less than the minimum unit price, businesses can follow these steps:

  • calculate the minimum price of a product
  • update the central pricing systems (if needed) to make sure the new price is shown when the barcode scans
  • change the price on any price tags and pricing displays on shop shelves
  • change the price on menus
  • change the price on promotional posters, flyers and other materials
  • change the price on websites

Wholesalers

Wholesalers don't need to comply with minimum unit pricing if they only carry out trade-to-trade business. Guidance for wholesalers has been developed by the Scottish Wholesale Association.

Further informaton for wholesalers is available on gov.scot.

Smaller retailers

The Scottish Grocers' Federation has developed guidance for smaller retailers.

Posters and flyers

The Scottish Government has produced materials for retailers to use to give customers information and raise awareness. These can be downloaded here.

Tool kits with printed copies of these will be available from local wholesale outlets from 25 April.

Minimum unit pricing for alcohol in Scotland
Information for retailers