New Study Claims Chain Store Wine and Beer Sales Would Increase Revenue

A study recently released by a Maryland group found approximately $100 million in new business revenue could be generated from sales of beer and wine in chain stores.


A recent study commissioned by a statewide advocacy group found selling beer and wine in chain stores could result in significant revenue for Maryland.

The study concluded that opening up wine and beer sales in chain stores, such as convenience stores and groceries, would generate $72 million in upfront licensing fees for the state.

The issue of alcohol sales in chain stores became a major topic in Columbia in the summer when the husband of the president of Wegmans attempted to open a 10,000 square foot liquor store on the second floor of the new grocery store.

The Howard County Beverage Board voted down that proposal after its members agreed it would violate state law and harm local businesses.

Currently, Maryland is only one of four states in the country that doesn't allow beer sales in chain stores and one of 13 that does not allow wine sales.

The study was conducted by the Sage Policy Group for Marylanders for Better Beer & Wine Laws and the findings were released in December.

Sage wrote that opening up sales of beer and wine to chain stores would cause about a 1.5 percent decline in wine and beer sales at current liquor stores.

"We were surprised by the magnitude of impact and reassured that existing retail licensees would continue in business with little effect," said Adam Borden, president of Marylanders for Better Beer and Wine Laws, in a statement.

"Here's what I would say," said Eric Stein, owner of Decanter Fine Wines in the Hickory Ridge Village Center. "Would you rather buy [beer and wine] from someone out-of-state or from someone in-state who employs local people?"

Stein said he currently employs 14 people at his liquor store, which is a short walk from a Giant grocery store. He said if he loses any significant amount of beer and wine sales, he'd probably go out of business.

The Sage study also references a Food Marketing Institute (FMI) study that found 22 of the 34 states and the District of Columbia that allow the sale of wine in grocery stores actually saw an increase in the number of liquor stores. FMI is an organization whose members operate chain grocery stores and pharmacies.

A Cornell University study examined the implications of introducing wine into New York state grocery stores and found that the policy change would benefit government revenues and out-of-state wineries, but wine sales at current liquor stores would fall 17 to 32 percent.

Right now, it's doubtful wine and beer sales will become a reality in Maryland sometime soon, according to Pat Donoho, president of the Maryland Retailers Association.

Donoho told the Anne Arundel County Times that his group has not take a position on the issue and will not likely bring it up in the next legislative session.

After the liquor store inside the Columbia Wegmans was defeated, Borden told Patch, "I think it would require a lot more consumer involvement on this issue and more coordinated effort from the retail community."

Related Articles

Poll: Should Maryland Allow Alcohol Sales in Grocery Stores

Poll Shows Marylanders Want to Be Able to Buy Alcohol in Chain Stores

State Beer and Wine Advocate Disagrees with Liquor License Denial

Beverage Board Votes Down Wegmans Liquor Store

Sanchez January 03, 2013 at 09:55 PM
"New Study Claims Chain Store Wine and Beer Sales Would Increase Revenue" At the expense of smaller neighborhood beer sellers. there is only "X" amount of money being spent on alcohol and it will not increase just because there are more outlets. This is nothing but a revenue raise since the sales tax has been increased.
Sanchez January 03, 2013 at 09:56 PM
Can th eauthor of the story explain how the 7-11 in Ellicott City on Frederik road has been selling wine and beer for 30 + years?
Eric S. January 03, 2013 at 10:22 PM
I don't get these laws at all. Where I'm from, every grocery store, convenience store, gas station, etc. can sell you any type of booze provided it comes to the state. Yes, many are chains, and well, most of those chains don't have a lot of specialty stuff, just major brands. So, the niche that local stores can fill is by having a better selection, different side items, going full on specialty, etc. Seriously, I just don't get it.
Michaelwritescode January 04, 2013 at 03:16 PM
I disagree. Traditional logic indicates that convenience of a product leads to more sales.
AV January 08, 2013 at 03:54 PM
Consumers should be allowed more choices regarding where they are allowed to purchase their liquid libations. Maryland alcohol distribution laws are tantamount to protectionism and cronyism. Until recently, you could not have wine shipped to your front door or have the bottle re-corked at a restaurant. Maryland legislators have been slow to keep up with consumer demands/needs and are beholden to the campaign contributions received from the distributor lobby. They have focused on the desires of the alcohol industry with little to no regard for the consumers who actually keep the industry afloat. It's about MONEY - No more, No Less...


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