The provincial government has reaffirmed its plans to permit liquor sales inside grocery stores in spring 2015 while also releasing the criteria that businesses must adhere to for eligibility.
Grocery stores applying for the liquor “store-within-a-store” license are required to be a minimum of 10,000 square feet in size and have approximately 75 per cent of their sales coming from food products.
There is no minimum size for the liquor stores within the grocery stores, but the policy mandates separate cashiers, safeguarding health and safety, and ensuring restricted access to alcohol by minors.
Attorney General and Minister of Justice Suzanne Anton has hailed the policy as “framework [that] strikes the balance of added convenience for consumers and support for B.C.’s business sector.”
However, the new policy is unlikely to create a “one stop shopping” experience for many British Columbians as the moratorium on the number of private liquor stores remains.
Another more detrimental restriction revolves around the one kilometre rule that will be maintained and expanded to include government liquor stores; new liquor retailers within a one kilometre radius of existing public or private liquor stores are not permitted.
The government claims the one kilometre rule will protect the market from over-saturation while also protecting existing private liquor store businesses.
Within the City of Vancouver, the one kilometre rule means only 2 of 53 grocery stores in Vancouver are far apart enough to be eligible for the store-within-a-store license. Both eligible stores are Choices Market locations at West 16th Avenue and West 57th Avenue.
The policy does not apply to general merchandise stores, “big box” stores or convenience stores.
A second model for alcohol sales inside grocery stores is being explored. It could allow a limited number of licenses for the sale of B.C. wine within designated shelves and purchased at designated cashiers.
Feature Image: BC Government