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Boston grocers renew effort to sell beer and wine

Grocery store owners in Boston, US, are planning another push to make it easier to sell beer and wine in stores.

Under current law, grocers can only sell beer and wine once they receive an alcohol permit from their local communities, but they are not allowed to hold more than three permits in the state, making it difficult for chain stores to sell alcohol.

Lawmakers will hear testimony to change the restriction this week. A bill filed by senator Michael Rodrigues would allow stores to hold up to 20 licences in the state, but no more than one in any city or town.

Grocers say they need the licences to boost sales, especially in smaller stores trying to compete with large chains, according to Jon Hurst, president of the Massachusetts’ Retailers Association.

The package store industry, which could face more competition under the bill, has battled against changes in the past.

“I understand the position of the package stores. They don’t want to see alcohol in grocery stores. They want to keep what is essentially a monopoly,” Hurst said.

But the Retailers’ Association wants to see the law loosened up, and called it a “common sense” expansion.
“It would be a great thing for consumers,” Hurst said. “It brings people into your store, and creates impulse buys. If you’re getting steaks for the night, then you pick up a bottle of wine as an impulse. It’s a sales driver.”

Massachusetts has some of the toughest laws in the country surrounding alcohol sales that date back to Prohibition.

Lucy Shaw, 16.05.2011

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