Brisk trade at off-licences before price hikes

Off-licences across the country were reporting brisk trade last night as shoppers flocked to buy wine before the price shot up from midnight.

At that point, duty on a 75cl bottle of wine was due to increase by a staggering €1 per bottle.

Carry Out on Douglas Road in Cork City reported that regular customers who would usually buy one or two bottles, were snapping up six or 12 instead.

At SuperValu in Glanmire, Co Cork, there was a large increase in wine sales compared to a typical Wednesday, though a staff member said the company was currently offering a saving of €10 when customers purchased six bottles.

Gary O’Donovan who has off-licences all over Cork said the price increase in wine was “outrageous”, though he pointed out that many retailers had bought in their stock in advance so the price increases might not be seen until January in many cases.

The Restaurant Association of Ireland said the increase in the duty on wine would bring the industry “to its knees” and would do nothing to tackle below-cost selling in supermarkets and off-licences.

CEO Adrian Cummins described the increases as “another burden restaurants don’t need. €1 on a bottle of a bottle of wine will bring a lot of restaurants to their knees,” he said.

“Most restaurants are simply struggling to survive, especially those outside the major cities. Budget 2013 was not what they needed to see before Christmas.”

The National Off-Licence Association was also dismayed by the increase in the duty on wine describing it as “a disappointing and irresponsible decision” that would drive independent retailers out of business.

The old reliables were also hit with duty on beer, spirts, and cider going up 10c, hikes the Vintners’ Federation of Ireland find particularly objectionable.

“[The] wholly unwelcome announcement by Minister Noonan with respect to the crude excise hike is a surprise in terms of the size of the increase and is a massive disappointment,” said the body in a statement.

It said the Government had failed to recognise the importance of the sector for the economy.

Meanwhile, the anti-smoking lobby ASH Ireland said it was very disappointed the Government failed to put a significant increase on the price of tobacco products. “An increase of 10c as announced on the pack of 20 cigarettes will have no impact whatever on smoking prevalence,” it said.

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