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Summerside's spirits rise in support of selling alcohol in convenience stores

Darleen Clow purchases her alcohol at a P.E.I. Liquor store.
Darleen Clow purchases her alcohol at a P.E.I. Liquor store. - Desiree Anstey

Two-thirds of adult Islanders raised a glass to the retailing of wine and beer in convenience stores

SUMMERSIDE, P.E.I. - A survey, commissioned by the Atlantic Convenience Stores Association and conducted independently by MQO Research, found that two-thirds of Islanders supported the retailing of beer and wine in convenience stores.

All participants were asked, “To what extent would you support or oppose that Prince Edward Island convenience stores should be allowed to sell packaged beer and wine to adult customers?”

Darleen Clow, from Summerside, somewhat supported the idea but raised a concern.

“For me it would be more convenient. It doesn’t matter if I have to go to the liquor store or not, but my concern is for my daughter who is only 16 and works as a cashier at Atlantic Superstore. Will this reduce her shift because they would need to have so many cashiers over 19 to sell the alcohol?

“They would need a couple of cashiers that were designated no alcohol transactions, so for all of these teenagers that are working in grocery stores it could affect them having jobs,” pointed out Clow.

Response options included one of strongly oppose, oppose, somewhat oppose, somewhat support, support or strongly support.

President of the Atlantic Convenience Stores Association, Mike Hammond said he was not surprised by the findings of the survey.

“In many ways this is no surprise to us. What is particularly notable is that almost 60 percent of survey participants identified as being non-drinkers expressed some level of support for retailing beer and wine in convenience stores.” 

Brittany MacDougall, from Summerside, noted that convenience plays a part.

“There’s already a small store in Wellington that has groceries and alcohol all under one roof and the convenience factor of it does definitely drive decision making when you choose where to spend your money.”

According to Hammond, the majority of beer in Newfoundland and Labrador, Quebec, the United States, and most of the developed world is sold by convenience stores that are small, easily accessible, trusted and privately operated.

“We live in a world where consumers expect convenience, and convenient access to packaged beer and wine sold in a responsible manner is part of that expectation.”

The convenience store industry is impressed by the leadership of the P.E.I. Liquor Control Commission and regulators on the province that are showing openness to modernizing beverage alcohol regulations.

“The minister of Finance has said and already shown that he’s committed to more modern and progressive regulations.”

Hammond continued, “We are talking about a bottle of mainstream wine on a Sunday afternoon, to go with a barbecue or a couple of cans of beer, purchased on the way home, to enjoy that night watching the hockey game. These are convenience and impulse sales.

“They are profitable for producers, the province and retailers. If these products are available the result is incremental sales and taxes, and if they are not the result is lost sales.”

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