Drink drive limit impacts on trade

By Gillian McKenzie

Lower level could have bigger ramifications than smoking ban

THE impact of the lower drink drive limit on the Scottish trade could be greater than that of the smoking ban.
SLTA chief executive Paul Waterson said the reduction of the blood alcohol limit (from 80mg per 100ml of blood to 50mg from December 5, 2014) is likely to hit the trade hard, particularly mid-week after work and Sunday business.
Waterson said general uncertainty among people over the new limit means many will opt to not drink at all.
“It’s a game changer,” he said.
“We’ve been saying for the last ten years that we didn’t need this. Our position was that 80 [mg] worked and was realistic; people knew what it meant. People are uncertain about 50 [mg], they don’t know what 50 [mg] is.
“People who liked a pint or a glass of wine after work or with Sunday lunch just won’t do it. And people who went out for a drink or two mid-week won’t do it if they have to drive the next morning.
“This will have a massive effect – not just on pubs but on the whole industry.
“It will have severe ramifications for many premises.
“I think it will have a greater impact than the smoking ban.”
Michael Robertson, who runs McPhabbs bar in Glasgow, said he has seen a change in people’s drinking habits since the lower limit came into force.
“A lot of people that used to come in for lunch and have a pint or a glass of wine aren’t having anything alcoholic to drink now,” he said.
“We stocked up on Beck’s Blue beforehand so we had an alcohol-free option and I’m planning to add more alcohol-free beers and wines but there’s only so much space in the chillers.”
Ben Smith, who runs the Riccarton Inn in Currie and the Kinleith Arms in nearby Juniper Green, said he has also seen a shift in customers’ drinking habits since the new legislation was enforced.
“There has been an impact on after work trade,” he said.
“We’ve had a few more people asking for shandy rather
than a lager. But a lot of people who used to come in for a pint after work have stopped doing it.”
After work business has also been impacted at Kilmaurs pub and restaurant the Weston Tavern.
Owner Sheila Wilde said regulars who would previously have had a pint on their way home from work are now opting to go straight home.
“You’re talking anywhere up to six or eight people [a night], and if you take that hit five days a week that’s quite a lot for a small business,” said Wilde.