FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 28, 2003
BC study finds liquor privatization will cost British Columbians more
VANCOUVER – The BC branch of the Consumers’ Association of Canada released a study today that shows consumers will pay more for liquor privatization in British Columbia.
The study, entitled “Privatization of BC’s Retail Liquor Store System: Implications for Consumers” compares prices at private liquor stores in Alberta with those at BC government liquor stores. The study finds that consumers will pay an estimated 10-20% more under a private system in BC.
“We performed a comprehensive review of alcohol prices in BC and Alberta and found that on average, BC liquor prices are very competitive - and in many cases lower - than what consumers pay in Alberta,” said Bruce Cran, president of the BC branch of the Consumers’ Association of Canada.
“This was a surprising result, considering British Columbians pay an extra 10% social services tax not applied in Alberta,” added Cran. “Even without the tax, the additional profit margins required by private industry will mean consumers pay more.”
The study finds:
In total, the study compares prices of 53 products at 69 liquor stores in 18 communities in Alberta with BC standard prices. This large sample size provides a high level of statistical confidence.
- Prices for beverage alcohol sold by British Columbia government owned liquor stores are competitive, and in many cases, cost less than typical prices at private liquor stores in Alberta.
- Different taxes rather than privatization account for an important part of the price differences between provinces. British Columbia consumers would consistently pay less than the lowest prices in Alberta if British Columbia did not apply a 10% Social Services tax.
- British Columbia consumers will pay 10-20% more for liquor under the BC government’s current proposed system of privatization.
- Prices for beverage alcohol sold at private liquor stores in Alberta do not vary significantly between small towns and large cities.
- Product access and availability will increase as more private liquor stores are permitted to open and operate seven days a week in British Columbia.
- Product selection will generally decline under British Columbia’s privatization plan as larger government liquor stores are replaced with smaller private stores.
- Based on Alberta’s experience, effective municipal zoning, business license and public participation processes will be needed to satisfy consumer, business and community interests in British Columbia on the private liquor store issue.
“This study finds little benefit for consumers in a private liquor system,” said Cran. “Our next step is to present these findings to the government for their review.”
For more information or to receive a copy of the study contact:
Bruce Cran, President, Consumers’ Association of Canada – BC