NSW government set to ease alcohol promotion restrictions

Posted by AFN Staff Writers on 16th July 2013

Liquor retailers in New South Wales have been lobbying the NSW Government to soften the NSW Government’s soon-to-be-released Responsible Promotion of Alcohol Guidelines.

Liquor Stores Association (LSA) NSW, which represents the State’s liquor retailers, says that price promotions in liquor stores do not promote irresponsible drinking.

The NSW Government had previously indicated an intention to place an outright ban on liquor store discounts and shopping docket liquor deals of more than 50 per cent off, which regulators believe facilitate and encourage binge drinking. That plan has reportedly been dropped from the guidelines which were due to be released shortly, but the Government said it wanted the feedback of liquor retailers.

LSA NSW said that price promotions for retail take away packaged liquor “clearly relate to price only and there is no association with messages for the alcohol to be rapidly consumed, or to encourage irresponsible drinking behaviour”. It said NSW liquor stores take their responsibility as sellers of alcohol “very seriously”.

The LSA NSW represents many of the largest alcohol retailers and these include chain groups Coles and Woolworths.

LSA NSW seeks distinction between retail and pubs and clubs

LSA NSW said its feedback on the NSW Government’s promotional guidelines for liquor required a “clear distinction in the regulator’s guidelines between promotions for on-premises and those for off-premises”.

“Promotions for take away packaged liquor that will be consumed at some later time within the home, at a BBQ, get together, or for cellaring or saving for a celebration, are very different from those in which the drink is required to be consumed within a short time frame while at a pub, club, bar or restaurant,” said Terry Mott, LSA NSW’s CEO.

Mr Mott said said the distinction was necessary to “ensure standard retailing practices didn’t get caught unintentionally in guidelines written for pubs and clubs”.

LSA NSW said retail price promotions were a “common feature of all retailing businesses and have been a part of drinks retailing for many decades”.

NSW liquor legislation review

The development of promotional guidelines for liquor in NSW comes as the State Government has called for public submissions to a five-year review of its liquor legislation.

The review will examine liquor law reforms made in NSW in July 2008. The 2008 laws increased penalties, introduced new offences, expanded regulatory powers, introduced a Community Impact Statement process for liquor license applications and established an administrative-based liquor licensing body to replace the previous court-based system.

The independent review is being overseen by Michael Foggo, a lawyer and past Commissioner of the Office of Liquor, Gaming and Racing.

Liquor purchasing trends in Woolworths and Coles

Meanwhile, new findings from market research organisation Roy Morgan research have found that supermarket preferences influence where Australians buy alcohol.

The findings from Roy Morgan Research showed that Woolworths supermarket shoppers tended to as loyal to Woolworths Liquor stores as to Dan Murphy’s (which is owned by the Woolworths group), compared with Coles shoppers who were more likely to buy their booze at either Liquorland or Coles-owned First Choice Liquor.

Dan Murphy’s was the most popular liquor store, with 15 per cent of Australians aged 18 and over saying they had shopped there in an average four-week period. Liquorland was the next most popular (9 per cent), followed closely by Woolworths Liquor (8 per cent) and then First Choice (4 per cent).

“Until fairly recently, Dan Murphy’s was unique in what it offered the wine connoisseur and bulk liquor-buying public, due to its size, value and reputation,” said Warren Reid, Group Account Manager, Roy Morgan Research. “Then along came [Coles’] First Choice Liquor, with a similar retail offering,” he said.

Roy Morgan Research said there are many similarities between Dan Murphy’s and First Choice Liquor, from above-the-line advertising to supply chain.

“Both are owned by Australia’s largest supermarket chains – Dan Murphy’s by Woolworths and First Choice by Coles – who realise that influencing purchasing decisions across grocery and alcohol categories is a valuable way of growing customer number and building loyalty,” Mr Reid said. “Both supermarket chains already have strong loyalty across their supermarkets and bottle shops through their localized liquor outlets, Liquorland and Woolworths Liquor,” he said.

NSW liquor retailers have lobbied government to soften guidelines