SUPERMARKETS in Sunderland are pushing cheap alcohol on the back of summer food promotions, it was claimed today.
Booze is being touted as a barbecue essential and sold for as little as 39p per unit, according to a survey carried out by Balance, the North East alcohol office.
The snapshot looked at some of Wearside’s supermarkets and revealed that discounted alcohol is the subject of summer promotions – which Balance claims encourages impulse buying.
Mystery shoppers visited Asda, Sainsbury’s and Lidl stores in the city to look for summer-themed drinks deals.
At Asda’s Leechmere store, inspectors found deals on bottles of wine at the ends of the meat aisle and also placed near the butcher and fishmonger areas of the supermarket.
Research carried out at Sainsbury’s in Silksworth Lane revealed a “summer savings” slogan with a photo of three bottles of wine at the store’s entrance. The same deal was positioned at the end of the crisps and snacks aisle further into the store.
Towards the frozen foods section, there was also a deal on bottles of lager.
At Lidl in Roker Avenue, wine was placed near bags of charcoal.
Research carried out by Balance shows summer drinking can have a double impact on families – especially at social events such as barbecues.
A teenager who has seen his or her parents drunk is twice as likely to get drunk and a third of people feel scared when they see adults drunk or drinking too much.
Colin Shevills, director of Balance, said: “There’s a lot of psychology involved in supermarkets trying to sell as much alcohol as possible to shoppers – regardless of whether they wanted it in the first place.
“By strongly suggesting that a large amount of booze is the perfect accompaniment to the food you’re buying or the social event you are going to, supermarkets are actively suggesting you can’t socialise without alcohol.”
A Sainsbury’s spokesperson said: “We recognise our duty to be a responsible retailer of alcohol and the vast majority of customers who buy alcohol from us do so as part of their regular grocery shop.
“We sell beer, wines and spirits at prices that are competitive, and from time to time we also run price promotions on a variety of lines.
“These are popular with our customers as they offer outstanding value. Our research shows that they consume it over a period of weeks and months or they buy it for a special occasion such as a party or celebration.”
A spokeswoman for Lidl said: “With regards to our summer barbecue promotion, it was not the merchandising procedure to place wines next to the barbecue items, therefore most likely this will have been actioned by the individual store due to stock availability.
“Naturally, we adhere to any Government health initiatives or licensing laws that apply in England, Scotland, and Wales and we adapt our merchandising according to those requirements.”