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Posted: February 23, 2021

Wholesale liquor pricing to remain permanent

Changes to allow restaurants, bars and tourism operators with liquor licences to purchase beer, wine and spirits at the wholesale price set by the BC Liquor Distribution Branch (LDB) are now in place permanently, the provincial government announced today.

“Early in the pandemic, our government took urgent action to support B.C. restaurants and pubs by allowing them to purchase alcohol at a wholesale cost,” said Mike Farnworth, Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General. “Now we are making this change permanent to give these businesses certainty and help them recover, and to help the estimated 190,000 British Columbians who work in this sector.”

Temporary changes to allow for wholesale pricing for the hospitality industry were implemented June 2020 and set to expire March 31, 2021. Before that, hospitality licensees – including restaurants, pubs and tourism operators with liquor licences – paid full retail price (wholesale price, plus a retail markup set by the LDB) on most liquor purchases, said a Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General and Liquor Distribution Branch media release.

These changes permanently allow licensees to pay the wholesale price for the products they purchase, which is the same cost paid by government and private liquor stores in the province when they purchase stock for retail sale, the release added.

“As the sector continues to pivot and adapt to meet customers’ needs, this measure will better position business owners to regain stability as they navigate through the pandemic to economic recovery,” said Ravi Kahlon, Minister of Jobs, Economic Recovery and Innovation.

This is the latest recommendation implemented to support the liquor industry resulting from government’s work in consultation with the Business Technical Advisory Panel (BTAP).

Other changes have included a number of temporary measures, such as extending the operating hours of retail liquor stores to promote physical distancing and accommodate vulnerable populations, and permitting all food-primary and liquor-primary licensees to deliver sealed, packaged liquor products alongside the purchase of a meal.

These are in addition to permanent measures, such as eliminating the independent wine store retail licence class and transitioning Rural Agency Store authorizations to the new Rural Licensee Retail Store liquor licence regulated by the Liquor and Cannabis Branch.

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