B.C. restaurant owners “on the cusp” of being able to buy liquor at a discount

liquor bottles

B.C. restaurant owners are “on the cusp” of having the provincial government agree to a deal that would let them buy alcohol at wholesale prices, according to B.C. Restaurant and Food Services Association CEO Ian Tostenson.

The Ministry of the Attorney General confirmed this week that there have been “accelerated on-going conversations around hospitality pricing in light of COVID-19’s impacts on the restaurant sector.”

Attorney General David Eby told Business in Vancouver in July 2018 that while such a proposal was “still on the table,”one stumbling block to the proposed change to allow restaurants to buy products at a wholesale price is opposition from those who believe that if the government reduces the price of alcohol that it sells to restaurants, the province will rake in less revenue from alcohol sales.

An alternate view is that lower taxes will increase overall alcohol sales, and help offset that lost revenue.

Restaurant owners currently have to pay the full retail price for beer, wine and spirits. While it is not clear exactly how steep a discount restaurant owners will get, it could be in the 15% to 20% range.

Tostenson said that he has been urging government to implement wholesale pricing for restaurants since at least June, 2018, when B.C.’s Business Technical Advisory Panel (Liquor Policy), headed by Vancouver wine lawyer Mark Hicken, released a report that had 23 recommendations. To learn more about that report, click here.

–This story originally appeared online at Business in Vancouver, here.

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