The Competition Commis-sion has cleared supermarkets of any wrongdoing in selling alcohol below cost.
The result comes as little surprise as it had been widely reported in leaks to newspapers in September, but it is nevertheless disappointing for pubs struggling to cope with cheap supermarket deals.
Pubs will also not be pleas-ed to hear the inquiry has recommended a change in planning laws to allow more supermarkets to be built.
The news comes as supermarkets are set to slash the price of alcohol to unprecedented levels this Christmas due to poor summer sales.
The inquiry's provisional report ruled out a ban on selling alcohol as a loss-leader.
It said: "Below-cost selling by national retailers is not part of a predatory strategy aimed at convenience stores or specialist stores and is not having significant unintended effects on smaller stores."
All hopes now rest with the Government inquiry into
pricing and promotions, ex-
pected to report by April 2008.
Evidence given revealed that the big four - Sainsbury's, Tesco, Asda and Morrisons - sold £112.7m of beer, wines and spirits below cost in the World Cup period last year.
The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) slammed the report as "missing the point entirely".