Independent retailers have expressed relief that Scottish First Minister Humza Yousaf has announced plans to drop the ban on alcohol advertising to “reset” his relationship with business.
As part of proposals to restrict the advertisement of alcohol, retailers would have to hide these products in cupboards behind tills or under the counter. The consultation also suggested that alcohol could never be shown in shop windows. This aimed to reduce the alcohol consumption rates in Scotland.
In a statement to the Scottish Parliament, the First Minister said: “The aim of this consultation – to reduce the harm caused by alcohol to children – is admirable. I support it wholeheartedly.
“But it is clear that some of the proposals have caused real concern to an industry which is already facing challenges on multiple fronts.
“I have therefore instructed my officials to take these ideas back to the drawing board, and to work with the industry, and with public health stakeholders, to agree a new set of proposals.”
Having campaigned against the proposals, members of the Federation on Independent Retailers (the Fed) welcomed the news.
Hussan Lal, the Fed’s president in Scotland, said: “We are pleased to hear that the First Minister has listened to the concerns of independent retailers and has taken the appropriate steps in dropping this consultation.
“Members are already facing enough financial strain with the rise of the cost of doing business and the growth of retail crime. Having to revamp our stores to put alcohol out of sight would be straining us even further.”
Fed members have previously spoken out about the dangers this move would pose to retailers. Former Scottish President Ferhan Ashiq warned earlier this year: “With the high costs of energy and goods – coming on the back of the stresses for businesses during the pandemic – retailers don’t have the mental or financial capacity to deal with any further legislation. We are burnt out. Some of our members’ businesses may not survive this year.
“Independent retailers believe that the government should be tackling the issues of problem drinking through better health education and cultural change, not by penalising retailers who are trying to earn a living and providing a living for the people who work for us.”