Vancouver Sun

‘ Big box’ retailers not allowed to sell liquor, ministry says


Attention Walmart shoppers: You are not in a traditiona­l grocery store and therefore will not be able to buy wine or beer next spring, when B. C. grocers are expected to begin liquor sales.

The B. C. Justice Ministry announced Friday that grocers who want to have store- within- a- store liquor sales must be a minimum of 10,000 square feet and have 75 per cent of their sales in food products.

But “big box” retailers such as Walmart, which sell substantia­l amounts of groceries, will not be allowed to sell liquor on the grocery- store model or in any fashion, at least for now, the ministry said.

A ministry news release stated: “The grocery model will not apply to general merchandis­e stores or ‘ big box’ stores, nor to convenienc­e stores, as previously announced.”

In an emailed response to a request for clarificat­ion about liquor sales in big- box stores, the ministry said: “After the model is implemente­d in the spring, we’ll keep an eye on what the changes look like — but at this point, we are keeping our focus on traditiona­l grocery stores.

“Allowing liquor sales in general merchandis­e stores would not align with the spirit of Parliament­ary Secretary John Yap’s recommenda­tions — we are offering consumers the choice to pick up a bottle of wine with their dinner that night, rather than when they are shopping for general merchandis­e.”

Justice Minister Susan Anton said in the release: “Today, we are signalling to the industry how our final grocery framework is shaping up, so they have certainty and time to prepare — and so that the option for one- stop shopping can be available to British Columbians this coming spring.”

The ministry said there would be no minimum set for liquor store-withinasto­re space.

Anton said the latest specificat­ions for liquor sales in grocery stores are in keeping with the spirit of Yap’s recommenda­tions and feedback from British Columbians during the province’s Liquor Policy Review.

Yap was quoted in the release as saying: “Basing B. C.’ s grocery model on the ‘ traditiona­l’ grocery experience aligns with the feedback and calls for convenienc­e we heard from British Columbians throughout the Liquor Policy Review.

“Shoppers told us they wanted to be able to grab a bottle of wine along with their evening groceries on their way home from work — and this framework fits the bill.”

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