Monday, 4 October 2010

Farewell To Booze Cruises?

Apparently the appeal of the booze cruise is fading. I never knew anyone who actually went on one, but in the North West we're a long way from the South coast ports. Booze cruising had its biggest effect in the South East, with the local pub industry and Kent brewer Shepherd Neame vigorously complaining about the high rates of alcohol duty that encouraged this traffic and damaged their business - not that the government took the slightest notice of their campaign. Recently, however, several supermarkets in Calais, such as Tesco, Sainsbury's and Oddbins, have already closed, and others report steeply declining sales, so it looks as though trips across the Channel to stock up for parties, weddings or Christmas may be a thing of the past.

As well as the recession, several other reasons are suggested for the decline:
  • The increasing cost of fuel.
  • £75 average cost of return travel by Eurotunnel or ferry.
  • Drop in supermarket prices in Britain, such as 3 bottles of wine for £10.
  • The strength of the Euro against the pound.
However, if minimum pricing of alcohol is introduced, it may make booze cruises viable again, especially for people who live in the South East. The increase in VAT to 20% next January may do the same thing, and thus a measure to raise extra government revenue could actually succeed - except that the government concerned would be French! The old law of unintended consequences yet again.


  1. To be precise, it should be the weakness of the pound against the Euro, not its strength. That must be a major factor over the past two or three years.

  2. Thanks, Curmudgeon, you're right of course; I meant to write the strength of the Euro against the pound.

    I've corrected the post.

  3. Although it's not my thing, I get the impression that the big supermarkets in the UK have become more adept at multibuy offers on "big box" beers which will appeal to those wishing to buy in bulk.

    There are probably still worthwhile savings to be made by shopping in France, but maybe not the startling ones there once were.


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