Dundalk PRO Paddy Malone Chamber of Commerce has expressed concern that the new minimum price for alcohol introduced last Tuesday could lead buyers across the border.
The new regulations mean that an average bottle of wine can now not be sold for less than 7.40 €, a can of beer must cost at least 1.70 € and the prices of spirits have also increased, bottles of vodka or of gin costing at least € 20.70 and whiskey at least € 22.
Paddy says the Chamber of Commerce had highlighted the problems this would cause since the minimum price was first mentioned several years ago.
“We argued that it should have been introduced in conjunction with a similar initiative in Northern Ireland, in the same way as with the sugar tax. We do not want trade distortion. This is the subject of the whole Brexit argument.
“I’ve spoken to a few off-licensing and they think that’s good news because it means supermarkets can’t cut them,” he said.
His concern, however, was that if people come down to Newry to buy cheaper drinks, they’ll also be doing a one-off shop and spending money that they would otherwise have spent back home in Dundalk.
“It’s the loss of that money and that downtown traffic that is the concern.”
“I would ask people to add up the total loss before they think about crossing the border.”
He also pointed out that they might not be saving as much as they think they are.
“Liquor cans are smaller in the North and the liquor is generally weaker, so you’re not comparing things the same.”
Another aspect of the price difference between the two jurisdictions was that it could lead to an increase in smuggling.
“Those who are involved in the illegal trade won’t bother selling to someone who is ten or eighty. “
Traders north of the border are already promoting the cheaper alcohol prices available a few miles away.
In a Facebook post, Hughes Foodhall in Camlough said: “The new minimum price for alcohol in the south means prices have skyrocketed. Check out our pricing to see how you can save BIG! Direction the border, direction Hughes! The only minimum we offer is great value for money and friendly service.
However, in the Mace supermarket in Omeath, they aren’t too worried about the long-term effect of the new pricing.
Owner Farhad is already used to locals going to Newry, but he thinks that while he may lose at first, he thinks customers will come back when they realize they aren’t saving as much as they do. ‘they think so.
“It doesn’t affect me that much. The cheapest bottle of wine I sell is € 7.99 and it’s the cheapest that need to go up in price, so it’s not that big of a deal. an impact on beers and spirits but this will affect the large supermarkets more.