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As a response to concerns in the UK about underage binge drinking, Tesco is calling on the British government to pass legislation that would essentially set a floor for alcohol pricing, prohibiting retailers from selling such products at cut-rate prices.

Lucy Neville-Rolfe, executive director for Tesco, has been quoted as saying that since “competition law prevents businesses discussing anything to do with price with each other and imposes severe penalties on anyone who breaches it. The only safe solution is for the Government to initiate and lead those discussions and to bring forward legislative proposals which Tesco and others in our industry can support.”

Press reports in the UK say that both Wal-Mart’s Asda Group and William Morrison Supermarkets have signed on with the Tesco suggestion.

KC's View:
Not to be overly idealistic here, but is it really necessary for retailers to depend on the government to legislate them into doing the right thing?

It seems to me that if low-cost alcohol really is seen as playing a major role in underage binge drinking, then retailers ought to simply say, “We’re not going to sell cut-rate alcohol anymore. It doesn’t matter what the competition does.” And then live with the results and repercussions.

Again, my feeling is that this would end up creating enough pressure that other retailers would have to fall in line.

Most people know what the right thing is to do. Doing the right thing often is a lot harder.