It’s amazing to think that just a while ago there was no such thing as buying liquor, beer, or wine at your local shop on Sunday or holidays. But, Governor Dannel Malloy changed that when he announced some sweeping changes helping Connecticut to finally not be one of the last states to be closed on Sundays. Well, if he has his way, there will be even more expanded hours and a few other changes to how consumers and owners are able to hold down their liquor in every sense of the word. All of these propositions were made during the Chaz and AJ show this morning.
First up, Malloy would like to extend hours Monday through Saturday from 8 am to 10 pm and from 10 am until 8 pm on Sundays. We can’t tell you how many times we’ve been shopping on a Sunday, wanted to pick up a beer, but wahh wahhhhh, we couldn’t buy it because shops were closed or that annoying plastic film has been lowered over the beer in the grocery aisle. You know what talking about! For the consumer, this is a giant win, although it might create some problems and force local retailers to make many changes and even hire more people.
Secondly, Malloy wants to remove the Minimum Bottle Law. This was put in place to help keep businesses competitive, but to also ensure that stores are making a profit on sales. By removing this law, stores can set their own price, even dropping it below retail price, but never lower than the actual cost. Many see this is a win for the consumer because stores will be competing against each other to help bring you the best price.
But, there are many who are saying that this move could actually cause many local businesses and retailers to lose money and possibly close. The thinking is that the large stores such as Total Wine in Norwalk can set the lowest prices in the area and would create a flood of customers who want to buy their beer, wine, and liquor. While Total Wine gains customers and profits, the local shops get less business and would then need to make tough decisions. Will they sell their liquor just as cheap and not take in any profit, or would they raise their prices to make up for some of the losses? And, if they do raise their prices, what if less people start shopping there . . . or if they set very low prices, how long can they do that before they start losing major money? The end game in this scenario has the big box stores closing out local shops then jacking up the prices because there isn’t any more competition around.
Yes, many will see that this is a free market and that the best, most successful businesses that market to the consumer survive and rise to the top, yet there is definitely more to this. Making this even more complicated is the next proposition from Malloy that will raise the cap on liquor store ownerships from three to six. Again, this could be a great thing for local business owners who have seen successful growth and want to expand their business into other parts of town or even in other areas.
But, it also brings up a similar question to the last issue: what about the big box stores? Theoretically under this ruling Total Wine (we hate to keep using them as an example, but they’ve actually made their intentions very clear from the start) or similar stores could buy six stores throughout the state. This could very well push even more businesses to the brink of closing and force out many locally owned, mom & pop shops.
Malloy finished his interview by saying that his proposals have been approved during a recent legislative session, but it’s not clear how the public and owners will react. From our perspective, it would seem good to the consumer to have competition, thus helping bring about lower costs and more opportunities to pick up beer, wine, and liquor. But, we seriously need to think about at what cost? Will these changes actually be better for businesses and CT?
What are your thoughts?