Legalizing chain store alcohol sales in Maryland comes with a lot of benefits to many stakeholders:
Modern alcohol laws mean ensuring a more free and fair market. Allowing chain stores to sell alcohol would significantly help balance Maryland’s budget while also delivering more choice and lower prices, to the tune of over $100 million. We have many funding priorities in Maryland like schools, better public safety or helping the Chesapeake Bay. Legalizing chain store sales can help us achieve more of these initiatives. If you want to read about how we got to this number, here is a link to the Sage Policy study we commissioned several years ago.
Think of all the time you’ll save and less hassle you’ll deal with once chain stores can sell alcohol! No running to multiple stores to find your favorite brands, no need to plan a special trip, no need to worry about when they’re open, and fewer miles on your car. With so much else being delivered to your door, wouldn’t it be great if alcohol could be too? Of course, more choices also mean better selection, lower prices, and more promotions.
More Choices & Lower Prices
With about 100,000 different wine brands sold in the US, no one retailer can possibly carry everything. Adding chain stores to the Maryland retail alcohol landscape means you're more likely to find your favorite brands or discover new ones. Greater selection also means lower prices. In fact, the FTC found prices could go down as much as 21% with more choices. MBBWL research found a 33% difference for a popular bottle at a chain store compared to independent liquor stores in Maryland.
Opposition Myths Dispelled
Some groups oppose expanding alcohol sales to chain stores, but the facts almost always refute the fears they raise. Below are just a few of their arguments with some facts that support our case:
Won’t selling alcohol in grocery stores put small liquor stores out of business?
Legalizing chain store alcohol sales is not about big business vs. small. One independent Oklahoma liquor store closed by the end of 2018 at the same time that that the state issued 3,300 new beer and 1,700 new wine licenses according to the Oklahoma ABLE Commission. Not to mention the 47 other states that allow beer and wine grocery store sales have plenty of thriving local liquor stores.
Will increased access to alcohol have negative public health implications?
There is no proven correlation between a decrease in alcohol regulation and an increase in alcohol-related incidents. In fact, there are statistics that suggest the opposite. For example, when looking at states where beer and wine are sold in grocery stores (i.e. New Jersey, Texas, Minnesota, etc.), ⅗ of these are states with the lowest driving fatalities (source).
Will selling alcohol in grocery stores kill jobs?
Many Maryland businesses will benefit from chain store sales. Unionized grocers will hire more warehouse and store staff. Bethesda-based Total Wine will bring construction jobs and well-paying store jobs as it has in 24 other states. Beverage distributors will hire more drivers and purchase more trucks to service hundreds of more retail outlets.
In other states, allowing the sale of beer and wine at grocery stores actually proved to stimulate economic growth. In Massachusetts, for example, the state saw a $16.9 million increase in economic activity along with 150 jobs created due to the increase in licenses. Liquor stores would also be able to sell licenses to supermarkets at a considerably higher price. Supermarkets in turn could hire more people.
Marylanders for Better Beer & Wine Laws commissioned an economic impact study by Sage Policy to evaluate this very issue in 2012 and found that legalizing chain store sales would yield almost 500 new jobs (click here to read the full economic impact study).
Won't more kids have access to alcohol?
An NIH study found that there is no direct correlation between increased availability of alcohol and underage alcohol use. The study also found that parties, friends, and adult purchasers are much more strongly correlated with underage access than where alcohol is actually sold. Similar studies found the same thing.