Supermarkets selling cheap booze for 24 hours a day could fuel an increase in problem drinking, lobby group Alcohol Concern has warned.
With many pub trade leaders already blaming town centre disorder on customers drinking at home before going out, there are fears that round-the-clock access to heavily discounted alcohol will compound the problem.
More than a thousand supermarkets in England and Wales, including many operated by market leaders Tesco, Sainsbury's and Asda, have already applied for 24 hour licenses. More are expected to follow as the August 6 deadline looms.
An Alcohol Concern spokeswoman said: "We are concerned that increased retail hours might result in a rise in drinking and problem drinking.
"If supermarkets are to sell alcohol round the clock they need to be committed to following responsible retail practices. That includes no cheap drink promotions, and no sales to people who are underage or obviously drunk.
She added: "It's crucial that they provide proper training to all their staff in order to ensure they understand the procedures, and that staff are given support in handling any difficult situations that may arise."