Supermarket sweep: big brands slash booze prices

Candy Bellinger

Critics of supermarket cut-price alcohol will be tearing their hair out today as the big brands launch into a booze price war ahead of the World Cup.

Cans of Carlsberg lager
Cans of Carlsberg lager

  1. Alcohol

  2. Supermarket

  3. World Cup

  4. Pubs

  5. Beer

  6. Lager

  7. Binge drinking

  8. Sainsburys

  9. Asda

  10. Tesco

Asda has slashed cases of bitter, lager and cider to just £9, while Tesco and Sainsbury's are taking a similar route to the Bank Holiday beer fest, which means customers can expect to get a pint for less than 50p. Come England's World Cup bid, it could be even cheaper.

Criticism of their already low prices has come from doctors, police and politicians while publicans, already struggling thanks to the smoking ban, say it is driving them out of business.

But the supermarkets clearly have no intention of quelling the tide of binge-drinking Brits because these latest price cuts mean that drinkers can expect to pay less than a fifth what they would pay for a pub pint.

Astonishingly, it also means that beer is now cheaper than water (bottled, at least).

Where pubs are barred from selling below cost booze, the supermarkets abide by no such rule and industry experts say they are losing £6 on each £9 case of beer.

A lager firm sales director called the tactic "ruthless, kamikaze trading", while a similarly exasperated beer company director told The Publican magazine: "It is reaching quite ludicrous levels.

"This is still two months before the World Cup so it will probably lead to deals of two crates for £16 by the time it starts."

The British Retail Consortium, though, sees things in a very different light. A spokesman told the Daily Mail: "Irresponsible drinking is not about price, it's a cultural issue."

Do you think the supermarkets should be forced to push alcohol prices up or, in these times of financial hardship, are you all for cut price beer?