Happy hours stretch to happy days as drink law loophole exposed
Publicans are getting round a ban on happy hours by introducing periods of three or four days when beer and wine is just as cheap.
According to new licensing laws introduced last week to eradicate the happy hour tradition, drink prices must remain the same for a period of 72 hours.
Yet a number of publicans are simply extending their existing happy hour prices for the full 72-hour period – or even longer.
Among those using the loophole is The Tun, the closest pub to the Scottish Parliament.
As part of its happy days price offer, pints of Strongbow, Heineken and John Smith are just 2, while a bottle of house wine is 6, around 33 per cent off normal weekend prices.
The legislation was intended to stop customers downing vast quantities of alcohol in a short time. However, Paul Waterson, chief executive of the Scottish Licensed Trade Association, admitted: "People are going from having a happy hour to having a happy 72 hours."
The theory behind the 72-hour rule was that publicans would be unable to afford to keep their prices low over such a lengthy period.
However, those in the drinks industry say a number of pubs are operating a two-tier price structure with cheap drink offered on weekdays.
Among them is David Johnston of the Montpellier Group, which operates Tigerlily, Candy Bar and Rick's in Edinburgh.
He said: "A couple of weeks ago, we had 5-7pm offers to encourage people coming in after work. We now have one or two products sold at good value prices. They may run for three or four or seven nights depending on the outlet."
A spokesman for the Glasgow licensing board said:
"If licensed premises wish to reduce prices over a 72-hour period then there would appear to be no impediment to them doing so."
A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: "The measures in the 2005 Act, as passed by the previous administration, mean the price of drinks must remain the same for a 72-hour period. This is to stop happy hours and the speed drinking that they encourage – to prevent people drinking as much alcohol as they possibly can before the price goes back up.
"Any member of the public is entitled to make representation to the licensing board about a licensed premises, including any concerns they may have about promotions."