Here's a grab bag of a few bits of interesting summer liquor news ...

BCLDB Liquor Sales Down. The latest edition of the BC LDB's Quarterly Market Review shows that overall liquor sales in British Columbia for the quarter ending in June were down 8% by volume and almost 5% by value over the previous year. Those are significant drops when total annual sales figures for BC are $2.8 billion. Sales of wine and spirits were both essentially flat while sales of both beer and coolers were down considerably. The LDB missed its sales targets last year and numbers like these seem to indicate a repeat performance.

HST Impact on Restaurants. As was expected, it has now been confirmed by the Canadian Restaurant and Food Services Association that the introduction of the HST had a strongly negative effect on restaurant sales in July. The Association is now asking government to mitigate the impact by considering other compensatory measures such as a long requested wholesale discount on liquor. As I have previously written on many occasions, BC's liquor wholesale distribution system for restaurants is seriously outdated since restaurants get zero discount - they pay full retail price when they buy wine and other liquor. This puts them at a serious competitive disadvantage when compared to restaurants in neighbouring jurisdictions (such as Alberta and Washington) and also creates sticker shock and dismay when tourists see the price of wine on restaurant wine lists. Let's hope government listens on this one.

Enomatic Controversy. I have recently been made aware of a minor controversy involving the use of "Enomatic" wine dispensing machines in various private liquor stores. These machines (from Italy) dispense measured pours of wine for tasting and keep the wine fresh for up to 3 weeks by preventing oxygen from entering the bottles. A few private retailers have purchased these machines to allow customers to sample wine before purchasing. I can attest from seeing them in operation in Italy and California that they work extremely well. However, the LCLB is apparently having some difficulty with them: read the full story here on the Winecouver blog. Update: August 6th ... I haven't been able to get any additional information on this to date but Wines & Vines has now covered the issue: Government Limits Wine Dispensers.

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