Alcohol prices in Off-licenses may be increased later this year if Michael Noonan decides to increase trader fees.
Currently an off-license pays an annual fee of €1,500 to sell beer, wine and spirits – while a pub license can cost between €250 and €3,800 but it depends on how much they sell.
In response to questions at the Dail, Noonan spoke of how he will consider an overhaul on these fees to balance competition between off-licenses and Pubs.
Speaking with Donal Cash, an independent trader in the Grape vine off-license on the Ballymun road, he mentioned government decisions to enact a minimum pricing per unit of alcohol. He believes that despite recent revelations, the government are working towards the benefit of independent off-licenses. According to Cash, proposed legislation will work in favour of off-licenses by balancing out competition between major retailers and supermarkets.
Donal believes that the main implication for traders and the main social implication is that consumers will gradually purchase less alcohol. “That’s all the money that they have so if they have to buy less then they will drink less”. He said.
He also spoke about speculation that people will travel up the north to purchase alcohol. “They are going to wait for minimum pricing to come in in the north because other wise people will just start going up the north again”.
The independent trading sector has witnessed significant cutbacks in recent year when 33 independent off-licenses have closed since 2008. 12 independent off-licenses closed during the early months of 2013 accounting for almost 60 jobs. NOffLA (The national off-license association) predicted that 20-25 independent off-licenses would cease trading in 2014.
The association have called on the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation to support measures aimed at protecting these businesses.
In this 2013 address, Evelyn Jones, the chairperson of the association stated “It is our hope that government will see the value of the Independent off-license sector and introduce measures – such as a reintroduction of a ban on below cost selling – that will ensure the revival and growth of the independent off-license sector, as opposed to the severe deterioration that we are seeing now”.