Pub lobby wants government action on cheap alcohol sales
Supermarkets are propping up below-cost sales of booze by raising the price of grocery basket staples, publicans say.
Padraig Cribben, chief executive of the Vintners Federation of Ireland (VFI), said that in 2005 a slab of beer advertised in newspapers the week before St Patrick's Day was "on offer" at €37.98.
"The similar slab of beer is now being sold for €24 in the same supermarket. It is clear they are selling below cost.
"Irish supermarkets are among the most profitable in Europe, so they must be making up the shortfall from below-cost selling of alcohol by raising the price of food," he said.
Ahead of the VFI's annual conference this week, Mr Cribben said it was time that the Government followed through on promises to address the sale of cheap alcohol and introduce a ban on price-based advertising.
However, he said that for the first time in years there were grounds for some optimism in the pub trade.
"The recovery is there but it is patchy," he said.
The VFI has set up a 'Pubs of Ireland' Facebook page in an attempt to use social media to boost footfall.
But there has been consolidation of the market, with thousands of pubs closed since the recession began. More than 270 Irish pubs closed in 2012, Revenue Commissioners' statistics show.
The number of pub licences issued last year fell by 273, a three per cent drop on the 2011 figure. At the same time, estate agents CBRE forecast a buoyant market for Irish pubs.
Experts said turnover in the industry was estimated to have fallen by about a fifth but that the decline had bottomed out in the last 12 months.