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BC LCLB Increases LRS Distance Separation

Effective yesterday, February 15 2010, the BC LCLB has increased the distance separation requirement for new or transferring LRS licenses (licensee retail stores – i.e. the newer style private retail store license) from 500 meters to 1000 meters. This will make it more difficult for licensees to transfer store locations if there are other LRS stores in the vicinity. The policy rationale stated in the LCLB Policy Directive 10-02 is to \”provide greater market certainty for LRS operators and prevent further market saturation\”. It is true that existing operators will get \”greater market certainty\” because they are effectively being provided with a 2 km radius government shield from competition. It is likely that existing LRS store operators will be pleased as this makes it difficult if not impossible for competitors to open stores in the immediate vicinity of an existing store. This change may have been made to partly compensate LRS owners for a possible increase in competition resulting from the recent \”uncoupling\” of their licenses from the liquor-primary licenses (bars/pubs) with which they were previously associated. However, consumers are unlikely to be impressed as this policy further restricts selection and price competition. Government policy does not prevent cigarette vendors, fast food outlets or gas stations from opening close to each other … since when it is a \”core function of government\” to prevent competition in the retail liquor business?

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