‘Save retail jobs’ - Pat Keller

Members of the National Off-Licence Association (NOffLA) in Tipperary have their pre-Budget submission and called on Government to reverse the 2013 excise duty increases and implement a ban on below-cost selling of alcohol.

Members of the National Off-Licence Association (NOffLA) in Tipperary have their pre-Budget submission and called on Government to reverse the 2013 excise duty increases and implement a ban on below-cost selling of alcohol.

Speaking about the pre-Budget submission, Pat Keller, owner of the Carry Outs in Roscrea & Nenagh, said: “Raising excise duty on alcohol is too often looked upon as a quick fix way of raising revenue for the Exchequer. However these increases have an enormously negative impact on independent off-licences such as my own in Tipperary. The increase introduced almost 7 months ago has caused ten businesses to close already.”

The pre-Budget Submission recommended that (1) there are no further increases in excise duty and a reversal of the 2013 increases; and (2) measures are introduced to stop the retailers selling alcohol below cost at cut throat process. NOffLA, which represents 315 independent specialist off-licences operating under certified responsible retailing standards, has seen over 3000 jobs lost since 2008.

Last year’s Budget introduced substantive increases in the alcohol excise duty of beer and cider (+22%), spirits (+18%) and wine (+41%). This has already had a hugely negative impact on independent off-licences with ten closures so far this year.

Increased excise duty has also had the effect of fuelling declines in duty paid by retailers to the government, as from January-May 2013, the duty paid on beer declined by 13%, spirits by 16.3%, wine by 9.8% and cider by 16.3%. The purpose of the excise duty increase in last year’s budget isn’t being met and this has had the knock-on effect of causing significant volume declines across all alcoholic beverage categories.

“Below cost selling also allows large multiple retailers to use alcohol as loss leader and NOffLA have calculated that this costs the Exchequer €21million each year.

“At present, retailers like me face immense economic pressures and we struggle to keep our doors open on a daily basis. It is an unfair trading environment. NOffLA calls on government to support independent off-licences as they provide much needed employment and local government rates in Tipperary. Action and support is needed now for our local area”, said Pat.

In addition this, such high excise duty has helped to fuel the black economy. Irish taxes on beer are the fourth highest in the EU, cider the second highest, spirits the third highest and wine the highest in the EU.

Alcohol products are prime targets for counterfeiters in the European market due to their brand value, high tax and the excise component of the final price. According to the Revenue Commissioners, the number of seizures of counterfeit and contraband alcohol in Ireland has increased from just above 100 in 2008 to over 350 seizures in 2012.

Meanwhile, as also recommended, a ban of below cost selling would see the State earn an additional €21 million each year and it would also ensure much higher retailing standards concerning alcohol as it would eliminate deals promoting heavily discounted branded alcohol.