Loblaw has been able to expand its beer and wine services, and other Ontario grocers with licenses may follow suit, following changes to provincial regulations just announced—Ontario is cutting LCBO wholesale prices for bars and restaurants, enabling curbside pickup of beer, wine and cider from licensed grocery stores, and freezing the basic beer tax rate.
“In addition to the wholesale pricing changes for licensed liquor consumption premises, the government has also made changes to enable curbside pickup of beer, wine and cider at licensed grocery stores and have increased flexibility for grocers to cross-promote beer, cider and wine with non-alcohol products.
“The government has also moved forward on its commitment by expanding sales of beverage alcohol to more than 270 new retail outlets across Ontario to date, including 191 LCBO Convenience Outlets and 87 grocery stores,” offered Scott Blodgett, senior media relations advisor for the Ontario Ministry of Finance.
Key takeaways for grocers
Highlights of the new legal framework for the sale, service and delivery of beverage alcohol include:
- Allowing licensed grocery stores to offer curbside pickup of beer, wine and cider
- Streamlining licensing and renewals for businesses through a single primary licence with endorsements for additional activities, such as on-site retail stores or brewpubs
- Reducing red tape by streamlining reporting requirements for manufacturers
- Increasing flexibility for grocers to cross-promote beer, cider and wine with non-alcohol products
- Enhancing social responsibility in the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario’s Registrar’s Standards by requiring individuals who sell, serve or handle alcohol to recertify their Smart Serve training
- Making permanent the extension of retail sale hours to 7 am to 11 pm for alcohol that was put in place in March 2020 in response to COVID-19.