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Liquor price changes small so far

Some producers are raising prices slightly and others are offering short-term discounts as B.C.'s new liquor price wholesale model took effect Wednesday.

Pre-tax retail price changes at B. C. government stores show little change for the the most popular brands of beer, hard liquor and other alcoholic beverages. Government store shoppers will see lower prices on the shelves, because as of April 1, government stores add provincial and federal sales tax at the cash register.

Of the top 10 brands of spirits, a 750 ml bottle of Crown Royal whiskey retails for $23.49, a two-cent increase, plus taxes. For the larger bottle of Crown Royal, government stores are reducing the price by $1.98 for the month of April.

A six-pack of Lonetree cider goes up 90 cents to $9.59 as a discount price for March ends. For larger cans of imported Strongbow cider, an April sale price is reduced $1.14 to $17.99.

For beer, a dozen Sleeman Honey Brown Lager increases six senates to $20.49.

For private retailers, Save-on-Foods store in Surrey was the first to take advantage of new regulations allowing sale of B.C. wines directly from grocery shelves. Supermarkets now have the option of including a liquor store with separate checkout for alcohol purchases.

The government store retail price used to be the benchmark for B.C. sales, with discounts off that price to private liquor stores, agency and B.C. wine stores. Now all retailers pay the same wholesale price to the Liquor Distribution Branch, which retains its wholesale monopoly.

The LDB wholesale markup is now 124 per cent of the supplier price for hard liquor, 73 per cent for coolers and ciders, 89 per cent for wine and a per-litre tax with ascending rates for small, medium and large breweries.

Justice Minister Suzanne Anton says the system is designed to create a level playing field for retailers, while maintaining the government's revenue of $1 billion a year from the wholesale markup.

Some government liquor stores have added refrigerators and Sunday opening hours, to make up for the loss of their wholesale discount compared to what private stores were paying.

 

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