Beer store ontario

Beer Store warns prices will go up in Toronto if sales move to corner stores

How much is the convenience of buying booze at corner stores worth to you? Would you pay more, per beer, across the board in exchange for better access?

It doesn't really matter. The choice isn't up to you — it's up to Ontario's provincial government and it's already been made.

Premier Doug Ford promised as part of his administration's first ever budget in April that as many as 11,500 new retail outlets would soon be permitted to sell alcohol — up from just 2,700 across the province currently.

A timeline has yet to be revealed for the expansion of beer and liquor sales to places other than the LCBO, Beer Store and select supermarkets, but serious flaws in the plan are already starting to emerge.

The Beer Store, in particular, takes up issue with the government expanding beer sales to thousands of new retailers — legally and otherwise.

Should Ford move forward with his plan as is, the privately-owned retail chain could not only sue Ontario for millions over a breach of contract, it could hike the cost of beer like mad everywhere.

"The addition of a significant number of new beer retail outlets would put the viability of The Beer Store’s retail business in question and undermine our efficient, low-cost distribution system," warned The Beer Stores board chair Charlie Angelakos in a letter sent yesterday.

"Doing this would result in significantly higher costs and beer prices and put the jobs of The Beer Store’s 7,000 employees at risk."

Angelakos also noted that Ontarians already pay more for beer than consumers in Quebec and Alberta due to taxes, not distribution, and that messing with the low-cost distribution model could cause beer prices to skyrocket.

"Retail beer prices are higher in Ontario than in Quebec because of taxes, not how beer is sold,” he wrote. "Retail beer prices in Alberta are significantly higher than in Ontario, even though Alberta beer taxes are much lower."

The chain, which has about 450 outlets in the province, also disputed in its letter the findings of a recent report from the Retail Council of Canada.

That report, released Tuesday, stated that putting beer and wine in corner stores would create some some 9,100 new jobs in Ontario and generate $3.5 billion annually for the economy.

Lead photo by

San Miguel Canada

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