As the law exists in Connecticut today, grocery stores are allowed to sell beer but not wine.
This negatively impacts hundreds of thousands of weekly grocery store customers who don’t have the option to buy a bottle of wine where and when they purchase food.
Instead, one protected retail class of trade is allowed a monopoly at the expense of our state’s food retailers.
This policy is rooted in the Prohibition Era, and there is no compelling reason for it in present day Connecticut. It protects no one, and it inconveniences nearly every Connecticut consumer who considers wine to be part of the preparation of a good meal.
It’s time to change the law.
According to a study by the University of Connecticut’s Zwick Center on Food and Resource Policy, 84% of Connecticut residents surveyed think it makes sense to allow grocery store wine sales.
First and foremost, it is a matter of convenience. Currently, state residents can purchase wine only in package stores. This used to be the case for beer, but that law changed with no measurable negative effect on society or small retailers.
Sunday sales of beer, wine and liquor were once banned as well. When the Sunday sales ban was lifted, sales increased — as did the number of package stores in Connecticut.
There are other compelling reasons to allow wine sales in grocery stores, and they all relate to the state’s economy and health of the state budget.
For instance, wine is subject to the state sales tax. The Zwick Center study projects that grocery store wine sales would increase tax revenue to the state by almost $2 million per year over the next 20 years and almost twice that amount in the following decades.
This new source of revenue helps everyone by funding important government initiatives and eliminating the need for new taxes in other areas or on other items.
Research shows allowing the sale of wine in grocery stores will lead to an increase in the sale of related items, including bread, cheese, flowers and specific foods that are often paired with wine.
Increasing the amount of retail space dedicated to wine sales in Connecticut — whether that is in a package store or grocery store — opens up new markets for the sale of wines produced in Connecticut, which in turn provides an incentive for Connecticut wineries to expand and hire new employees.
For years, lobbyists working for package stores and their distributors have fought against changing this law and in favor of special protected status for their clients.
This has created a system that favors one type of retailer over another and denies Connecticut consumers the convenience they deserve — the same convenience shoppers in 42 other states enjoy.
The evidence clearly shows expanding retail opportunities for wine sales hurts no one. There is no evidence any package stores have ever closed as a result of beer sales in grocery stores or Sunday sales.
If anything, the market has only grown.
Under the proposed change in Connecticut law, not every grocery store would choose to sell wine and some, such as Target and Walmart, will continue to be prohibited because food sales make up less than 50% of their overall business.
Package stores would still have a distinct advantage over grocery stores when it comes to the variety of wine in stock and the expertise of staff.
Grocery store sales serve only as a matter of convenience and would not be a market-altering policy change.
Original article found at HBJ.