One of the changes brought about by the Sale of Liquor Act 1989 was the sale of wine only in New Zealand supermarkets. To assess this change, the Alcohol & Public Health Research Unit undertook a qualitative longitudinal study in two phases before wine went on sale and twelve months later.
The first phase involved 160 supermarket shoppers, of whom 137 (86%) were retained for the second phase. This high retension rate was attributed to the quality of the relationships established by interviewers and the procedures for retaining contact over the 12 month period.
The study found that people buying wine at these outlets, particularly the women, found it was an environment in which they could feel comfortable buying wine. They could treat it as another grocery product; it was not a male-dominated domain; they did not have to show their ignorance or lack of taste to staff; and they could avoid the stigma some felt if going to other types of outlet. This and other findings provide evidence of a normalisation process that may be of concern from a public health perspective. There are also potential public health implications in the women's perception that the cost of the wine purchase was less visible because it was contained within the grocery bill.
Researchers: Allan Wyllie, Sally Casswell.
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