Asda 24-hour booze bid sparks debate on South Shields pub scene - and whether we need to shop around the clock at all

Asda South Shields
Asda South Shields

Shoppers have come out in support of Asda's plan to sell alcohol 24 hours a day - but some fear it could harm South Shields' pub scene, and questioned whether we need round the clock shopping at all.

The supermarket chain has applied to sell alcohol 24 hours a day through the week at its town centre branch in Coronation Street. At present it stops at 11pm until 6am the next morning.

The company claims it will only use the licence in its busy Christmas period, but South Tyneside Council said no date limit had been included in Asda's licencing application.

The news alarmed Balance, The North East Alcohol Office, which campaigns for a ban on cheap booze sales and for a minimum unit price for alcohol.

However, a number of readers dismissed the fears.

Sarah Knowles said: "I often do my Xmas shopping late at night as it’s quieter and it’s annoying if you can’t get everything you need including booze. Don’t assume that people buying it 24hrs will be drinking it straight away."

Neil M Robinson said: "You don't see crowds of drunks falling out of Asda Boldon at 2am. And it's not like This one is surrounded by housing.

Mandy Cook said: "If people don't get the booze at Asda, they'll just get it elsewhere."

Related: Asda 24-hour petrol station given green light in South Shields

Sean Haswell said: "Walk a few hundred yards to the local petrol station and you can buy booze there. The argument against this is flawed."

However, there are those who fear the move would harm South Shields' pub scene.

Stephen Sullivan said: "The cheap alcohol has an impact on the local nightlife. I run one of the bars locally and people come out later and later, usually after they've consumed their cheap alcohol from the supermarkets!

"I think Asda having a 24-hour license would be detrimental to the pubs, bars and clubs in South Shields."

Stephanie Fulcher added: "I could not agree more. I remember back in day South Shields was a lot busier than it is now. Still some great bars, but people come out really late drinking in house. If it's available 24 hours the licensed trade would definitely suffer more."

Samuel Field said: "The Shields club and pub scene is dying off anyway. Who wants to pay £4 for a bottle of cider or beer? Pubs and clubs were cheap as chips years ago.

"Now the standard price for a pint rounds off between £3/£5 depending where you go. The bottles are ridiculously priced too! Specially the wines. £11+ for a bottle that's actually only about £4 in other stores and shops."

However, there were those who felt supermarkets should not open 24 hours at all.

Asda in South Shields is open 24-hours Monday to Friday, closing at 10pm on Saturday, and only open 10am to 4pm on Sundays in line with trading laws.

Agnes George said: "I don't think they should be allowed to open 24 hrs a day, never mind sell booze 24/7."

A number of Gazette readers disagreed, citing people who worked "awkward hours" and parents of babies who may need products in an emergency at night as among those who benefit from longer opening hours.

Dean George Costello said: "Some people work silly hours like me so have to do shopping at awkward hours.

"I used to work at Asda too so don’t say you feel bad for the employees. I just wish it was 24 hours on a Sunday too."

However Agnes, herself a former Asda worker, replied: "I'm pretty sure no one would die of starvation because the shops closed overnight I just think folk have become so used to getting what they want, when they want it.

"It's got more to do with greed and profit, than being for the benefit of the customer."

She added: "Us oldies out there (I'm 64) had it sooo good! No doctor Google, no mobile phones, no 24-hour shops, no Just Eat.

"Just good old common sense and forward planning. Oh and shank's pony to walk to A&E if needed with babies in a pram! The End!"

Neil Oxley agreed. He said: "The article is about 24-hour alcohol sales in ASDA, which others have pointed out, is detrimental to the local pub economy (though the bright lights of Newcastle have a hand in that as well).

But, what Agnes is (correctly) pointing out is that people have always worked 'unsocial' hours and had babies in days before 24 hour supermarkets existed and before we had Sunday opening.

"People used to plan ahead. My parents had me before this convenience existed and, through planning and preparation, raised two kids.