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Low abv beer sales rocket in Scotland

Sales of low-alcohol beer in Scotland have risen dramatically following the introduction of lower drink-driving limits in the country, retailers have claimed.

Craft-BeerBig supermarkets and smaller independent retailers have reported growth in the category after the new limit came into force, which allows only one pint of normal lager for a man or half a pint for a woman before driving.

The on-trade has also anecdotally seen rising sales in low abv pours, as well as smaller measures of wine becoming more popular.

Paul Waterson, chief executive of pub trade body the Scottish Licensed Trade Association, said that businesses are “saying the drink-driving laws are having more of an effect than the smoking ban”.

Speaking to The ScotsmanTesco beer spokeswoman Natasha Pitman said while demand had also risen in the rest of the UK, the increase was three times higher in Scotland.

“The new drink-drive limit appears to be having an effect in changing people’s lifestyles in Scotland,” she said.

And Peter Sherry, owner of The Beerhive shop in Edinburgh, which stocks 200 different kinds of beer, also told the paper he had noticed higher demand for low-alcohol products.

“We have always stocked a certain number of beers which are under four per cent alcohol,” he said. “We also have a 2% abv stout which, when it was released about a year and a half ago, was very hard to sell. Now, however, it is much easier and we have a lot of people coming into the shop to ask about it particularly.”

He added: “Certainly, the drink-drive limit changes have affected things.”

The SLTA’s Paul Waterson said, “People’s habits and attitudes to alcohol are changing as a result of the new legislation – they are drinking less even if they are not driving, as they are worried about if they have to drive the next morning.”

The new rules lowered the alcohol limit for drivers from 80mg to 50mg in every 100ml of blood. The limit remains higher – at 80mg – in the rest of the UK.

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