< Back to news 12 February, 2015

Scottish bar sales plummet up to 60% following new drink drive laws

Businesses in Scotland have seen a drop in bar sales of up to 60% since the introduction of tougher drink driving laws just two months ago.

As a result of the changes to the drink drive laws Beacon is providing its customer base of over 400 companies across Scotland with three practical tips to help make changes to age old hospitality habits in Scotland, as well as its customer base in England and Wales, to help promote safer roads.


  • Beacon also found that the new rules have resulted in new drinking behaviour trends, such as the introduction of smaller glass sizes, earlier lunches and increased interest in mocktails and other non-alcoholic drink alternatives.
  • After surveying a sample of its Scottish customers, Beacon has found that bar sales are struggling across the country – with owners citing the new tougher laws, combined with poor weather for a drop in bar sales from 10% up to a massive 60%.
  • These findings follow pub chain Greene King’s announcement that it saw a 2% rise in pub sales in England and Wales, but not in Scotland throughout January.

Later and Longer
Hoteliers should be thinking carefully about their timings – we are hearing of hotels moving their check-out time later, and lunch service earlier, to encourage drivers to return to the roads later. Consider pushing check-out time to 12noon instead of 10am, and bringing lunch service forward to 11am to encourage guests to stay longer.

Size matters
Consider different serving sizes – a schooner (a two-thirds pint glass popular in Australia) is a good option already being adopted by some businesses in Scotland as a pint of beer will now put drivers over the limit.

There is increased interest in serving guests Mocktails – non-alcoholic cocktails, low-alcoholic beers and wines. Serving mocktails can open a new income stream for bars moving customers away from tap water, which is on the increase during lunchtimes.

Tennant Hilditch, Director of Sales at Beacon, commented:
"The first two months of the new drink driving laws being in force have shown a real impact on the hospitality industry in Scotland. Traditional lunchtime drinkers, or post-golf drinkers in the clubhouse have been particularly affected by the new rules. So much so, that we are seeing demand for smaller glasses, weaker beers, a trend towards introducing earlier lunch sittings so guests or golfers can stay longer and do not return to the roads as quickly, as well as an increased interest in ‘mocktails’.

Some of our hotel, bar and golf club customers are fearing the downturn will be particularly bad for their peak tourist periods of spring and summer holidays and are asking for help from Beacon’s suppliers to prepare for a new type of guest – one who drinks less, would prefer to check out later and enjoys an early lunch."

Nicki Robertson, General Manager at Best Western Woodlands Hotel in Dundee, said:
"We’ve been hit hardest at lunchtimes, with a significant drop in bar sales down throughout December and January. Although our evening sales are remaining steady, we just can’t charge as much for low alcohol wine or beer, and at lunchtime, we are finding that many of our guests are just enjoying a jug of tap water with their lunch – it’s great for safety on the roads, but it puts us in the hospitality industry in a difficult position moving into the busy spring and summer seasons."


Beacon supply partner, Office Depot help Scottish customers to stay safe on the roads with their exclusive pricing offer on single use breathalysers. If you are already a Beacon customer, please log in to My Beacon to take advantage of this great offer.

If the change in the drink drive limit effects you and your business, please contact Beacon to see how we can help you adjust to the change.

Already a Beacon customer? If so, please speak to your Beacon account manager today or call the Beacon office on 01904 695588.