Colorado chain stores used to only be allowed to sell beer with an ABV below 3.2% and at only one location. Colorado chains threatened a referendum via Your Choice Colorado to immediately be able to sell beer and wine at all locations, but a legislative compromise was passed in 2016.
The new law allows chain grocers, convenience, drug, and dollar stores to sell full-strength beer and wine. “Grocery stores could have up to five locations in 2017, eight in 2022, 13 in 2027 and 20 in 2032. After 2037, the limits go away and open competition ensues,” according to the Denver Post.
One University of Denver study found that allowing Colorado chain stores to sell alcohol was expected to create 22,000 jobs and save Colorado consumers $485 million. This new law impacted independent liquor stores much less than expected. Most local stores that were hurting in the beginning saw a significant rebound within a few months with customers coming into their store for expert advice about what alcohol to buy. These independent liquor stores are also now allowed to open a second location and sell snacks to help keep profits steady. Before this legislation was passed, Colorado’s drunk driving fatality rate in 2015 was 182 compared to the year it took effect in 2019 with 171 fatalities.