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Northern off-licences expecting 'influx' of sales from Republic due to minimum unit pricing

As of January 4th, alcohol products in the Republic must be sold at a legal floor price based on the amount of alcohol it contains.
Discount stores must charge at least €7.10 for a 750ml bottle of wine from January 4th

Discount stores must charge at least €7.10 for a 750ml bottle of wine from January 4th

Neasa Cumiskey

Northern Irish off-licences near the border are expecting an “influx” of customers from the Republic after the introduction of minimum unit pricing (MUP).

As of January 4th, alcohol products in the Republic must be sold at a legal floor price based on the amount of alcohol it contains.

The move means that an average bottle of wine cannot be sold for under €7.40, while a can of beer will cost at least €1.70.

Spirits will also increase in price, with vodka and gins to cost a minimum of €20.70 for a 700ml bottle.

However, MUP has not yet been introduced in Northern Ireland, and some off-licence owners are concerned that customers in border counties will travel north to get less expensive alcohol.

Speaking to The Pat Kenny Show reporter Barry Whyte today, Seamus McNamee - the owner of the First and Last off licence in Jonesborough, which is near Newry and the Co. Louth town of Dundalk – said that they are expecting to see more customers from the Republic this year.

“In the short-term, it will be good,” he said.

“We won’t see a big influx until maybe St Patrick’s Day and Easter. A lot of our business is southern Irish anyway, but I’d like to think we’ll see a bigger influx.

“People are going to be saving €12-13 on a slab of beer.”

Despite this, independent off-licence owners south of the border have welcomed the new MUP rules as they can now compete with supermarkets previously selling alcohol at discounted prices.

Michael Finnegan, who owns The Camelot Bar and Off Sales in Dundalk, said that smaller businesses won’t be impacted greatly by the change.

“There’s only a couple of products that will have to increase - the majority of stock… would already be over the minimum price,” he explained.

“It has made it a level playing field, as it’s stopping the multinationals and supermarkets from selling beer, wine and spirits at below cost.”

He added prices have always been cheaper across the border, and he doesn’t look at that as a problem - instead, it’s simply “a trading issue we have to deal with.”


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